The AFL has apologised to past players who were “let down” by the manner in research into concussion was conducted, after an independent review found fault from Associate Professor and former AFL advisor Paul McCrory.
In March, the AFL announced it would conduct an independent review into the “work, research and advice” provided to the league by McCrory, who faced allegations including plagiarism and the treatment of at least five ex-players for head knocks during an agreed ban.
On Tuesday, the league published the 260-page report, which found that seven editorials informed by McCrory contained plagiarised text, which the report said “constituted an embarrassing blemish” on McCrory’s “professional/academic” reputation.
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The report was chaired by Bernard Quinn KC, who is also leading an investigation into historical allegations of racism at Hawthorn Football Club.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the league accepted the findings of the report and would act on recommendations “as soon as possible” relating to the “clinical care aspects for past players”.
The report’s principal criticism related to “underfunding and under-resourcing of some of its historical concussion research and clinical care”.
“The AFL apologises to the past players who gave up their time in the hope of better understanding their own conditions and to assist with the research for the benefit of current and future players and were let down by the manner in which some of the research and clinical programs were at times conducted,” Dillon said.
“We will continue to invest, engage, resource and do better on this type of research and the facilitation of care going forward.”
The panel found instances of plagiarism from McCrory “do not affect or taint the work” he had undertaken for the league, “in large part because they do not involve the falsification or fabrication of relevant research.”
As part of the release, the AFL stated it had asked Gordon Legal to continue to consult on a no-fault financial assistant scheme for players who have suffered debilitating head injuries during their careers.