3rd January 2010,Darren Andrews, Melbourne Victoria,Newsvine-The first ball has not even been bounced and controversy has already sparked. Geelong player Mathew Stokes has been charged in relation to drug offences
GEELONG forward Mathew Stokes has been suspended by the Cats from all club activities after being changed with trafficking and possessing cocaine.
Stokes, 25, was charged after drug raids on four properties in the Geelong area last Friday and appeared in Geelong Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon.
He was released on bail to reappear in March.
Police alleged Stokes purchased one gram of cocaine on January 19 from a Geelong nightclub bouncer.
"We are disappointed by the turn of events today," Geelong CEO Brian Cook said.
"Given the gravity of the charges the club has decided that Mathew will be stood down from all club activity as we attempt to gather all the facts of this matter.
"This is not a rush to judgment but a reflection on the seriousness of the situation. It is important for Mathew that he deals with legal issues at hand as his first priority.
"As we have in the past, the club will not rush to formulate a long-term determination of any penalty. Mathew is obviously very upset by what has happened and we will give him a little time to gather his thoughts and then we will sit down with him and work through the situation.
"The club has been in contact with the AFL throughout the day to ensure they have been kept informed.
"When there is any update to this situation the club will make further statement."
Since making his debut as a mature-age recruit in round 9, 2006, Stokes, from Woodville-West Torrens in South Australia, has appeared in 71 matches for the Cats, kicking 108 goals.
He played a key role in Geelong's 2007 premiership triumph, not only coming back onto the field in the season-decider after looking seriously injured, but also booting three first-term goals a week earlier in the thrilling preliminary final win over Collingwood.
The lively forward, who represented the Dream Team in the Hall of Fame Tribute Match in 2008, was considered an unlucky absentee from the Cats' 2009 flag.
After feeling soreness in a groin, he ruled himself out of the Geelong team to play Collingwood in last year's preliminary final and was unable to force his way back into the team that narrowly edged out St Kilda in the 2009 epic.