‘We do not lie on behalf of players’: Craig Dickenson denies lack of transparency on A.C. Leonard suspension

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The post-game press conference after a big win usually the time for a head coach to bestow some well-earned praise on his players, but Riders head coach Craig Dickenson had to change gears a little on Friday night.

The media availability after Saskatchewan topped Toronto was the first time Dickenson had a chance to address the expanded suspension leveled at starting defensive end A.C. Leonard and the winning coach took time-out to set the record straight.

“I’ll just say this, we do not lie on behalf of players or we do not try to be non-transparent. When we found out that he got a third game is the same time you found out and it was because of his abuse or his treatment of the official,” Dickenson said.

Leonard was initially suspended for two games after he failed to provide a sample for drug testing as outlined in the joint CFL and CFLPA drug policy, which results in an automatic two-game suspension.

The suspension was implemented immediately, making Leonard ineligible to play in Week 6 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or Week 7 against the Toronto Argonauts. However, the 29-year-old was slapped with an additional game suspension on Thursday after it was deemed he committed “verbal abuse and unacceptable behaviour towards the doping control officers.” He will now also be ineligible to play in Week 8 against the B.C. Lions.

“When he failed to submit a test, we knew it’d be a two game suspension and we told to everybody that would be the case and we didn’t know it would be a third game. It would have been nice if the league would have announced all three of them at the same time, but there’s an appeals process. The player has rights and it’s a he said, she said sort of thing that they got to figure it out, investigate,” Dickenson explained.

“They did the investigation, AC didn’t treat the person with respect like he should have and we’re disappointed in him and I think he’s disappointed in himself. The league came out and gave him a third game and when you found out about it, we probably found out about it 10 minutes before you did.”

It’s unclear what the allegations of deception are against the Riders that Dickenson is referencing, but the head coach is clearly not to pleased at the implication that his club was anything less than honest in handling the situation. The Riders were transparent publicly at the earliest opportunity and Leonard will have to bear the consequences of his actions.

“There’s really not much more to say. He’s losing a lot of money. He knows he let his teammates down and I think he feels very remorseful and very bad about it,” Dickenson stressed.

“When we know something, we’ll tell you and I wanna just make that point because I know there’s a lot of scuttlebutt out there that for some reason we know more than you guys and that’s not the case.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.