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West Coast suspends Cousins


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FORMER West Coast captain Ben Cousins has been suspended indefinitely by the reigning AFL premier for a breach of the club's rules.

Cousins, the 2005 Brownlow medal winner, failed to show for training with the Eagles yesterday, reportedly after a big night out.

West Coast chairman Dalton Gooding, who only recently was foreced to admit his club had problems with alcohol and drug abuse by its players, appeared stunned as he fronted yet another feisty media scrum at the club's headquarters tooday in Perth.

He described today as a "very sad day" for his club, but assured reporters that Cousins's breach of club rules was "not a police matter".

"Ben has a number of private and personal issues," Gooding added, answering questions on rumours the midfield player had split from long-time girlfriend Samantha Druce and moved back to his parents' home in the West Australian capital.

Gooding also confirmed Cousins would not line-up against Sydney on March 31 for the AFL first-round fixture.

Cousins had been disciplined for not turning up to training yesterday, Gooding said.

"He just didn't turn up," he added, suggesting Cousins had yet to provide the club with any reasons why.

"He missed a weights session and another session before that . . . and enough is enough," Gooding said.

"We always said we would suspend players if they re-offended and Ben has re-offended by missing training, and we have been very consistent with that.

"We believe he's breached his contract and acted unprofessionally and that's why he's been suspended and that's why we're giving him ever opportunity to fix up his personal and private issues."

Asked if the issues were drug-related, Gooding said: "Very personal and private issues and our club is prepared to work with Ben.

"He's one of our great players and it's a very sad day day for our club and our history, and we have a duty of care for all employees of our club, and we'll work closely with Ben and his family to help him overcome these private and personal issues."

Gooding said Cousins was drug tested yesterday, but those results would not be known for several weeks.

Radio station SEN broke the news that Cousins had fallen foul before the media again descended on the club to find out more.

Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett is to hold a press conference at 1.15pm (AEDT) today to provide more specifics.

Cousins, 28, was stripped of the West Coast captaincy last year after he fled from a police booze bus.

Only four months ago, he was arrested in Melbourne for being drunk outside Crown Casino.

He was also questioned by police in May 2005 over a Perth nightclub brawl involving gangster John Kizon, who he and former teammate Michael Gardiner had socialised with.

It was also alleged at the time that Cousins and Gardiner had received phone calls from gangland figures before and after a nightclub shooting in Perth.

In 2002 Cousins was involved in a fight with teammate Daniel Kerr outside a Perth nightclub, and during the same post-season celebrations Cousins broke his arm.

Despite his litany of off-field troubles, Cousins remains West Coast's most-decorated player and an enormously popular figure in Perth.

He won the 2005 Brownlow medal, has won four West Coast best and fairest awards, is a six-time All-Australian and was voted the 2005 most valuable player by the AFL Players' Association.

He captained the Eagles 104 times from 2001-2005 and is seventh on the club's games record list, with 231 games (202 goals) since 1996.

Source FoxSports

This is huge news in the AFL world.

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