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Club doctor aware; CEO wasn\'t...
Newcastle club team doctor Neil Halpin today admitted to knowing of Andrew Johns' drug use for five years.
In a stunning admission, the first from a Newcastle official since Johns claimed the club knew of his behaviour last night, Halpin said he had been helping treat the player for some time over his alcohol, drug and health issues.
"Andrew Johns admitted on television last night to longstanding drug and alcohol use," Halpin said in a statement.
"I have been aware of this since 2002.
"I have treated Andrew for many years not only for his football injuries but I have coordinated the management of his drug and alcohol abuse.
"I have personally spent many hours with him assisting him as far as possible with this and related issues.
"His abuse has related to so-called recreational drugs and there is no evidence whatsoever that he has ever used any performance-enhancing substances."
Halpin said he had been granted permission by Johns to release details of their relationship over the past few years.
"This statement is made with Andrew's approval," he said.
"He has been referred to and treated by two eminent psychiatrists both of whom have a special interest in and expertise in this area.
"He has also been seen by a clinical psychologist and has had specialised counselling.
"He has been urged to participate in an appropriate 12-step program.
"His problem has been managed as a medical rather than a disciplinary issue and in a non-punitive and supportive manner with the emphasis being on rehabilitation.
"The primary requirement for successful drug and alcohol rehabilitation is honesty, with others but most of all with ones self.
"In publicly admitting his drug and alcohol abuse Andrew has to a large extent achieved this.
"He has indicated that he intends to continue with treatment and I am hopeful of a favourable outcome."
Halpin also said the club had at all times acted within the NRL's doping code.
"As his doctor my primary duty is to Andrew and I am bound by the same professional confidentiality with him as with any other patient," he said.
"Over the years the Newcastle Knights have tried to support Andrew with these problems although I am not certain to what extent they have been aware of their severity.
"To the best of my knowledge the club has always complied with the NRL's illicit drug policy.