Ken Ilso has become the first A-League player to challenge the NRL domination of The Frownlow Medal in 2019 after he returned a positive drug test. The Adelaide United player has been provisionally suspended by Football Federation Australia after his A sample returned a positive test for a banned substance.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Ilso becomes only the fifth A-League player to be nominated for either The Frownlow Medal or The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame since the award’s inception. He is also the sole representative for the round-ball code in a year in which 18 NRL players and five AFL players have already been nominated.
An investigation into Ilso’s positive test will determine if he is able to return to the A-League, while court cases involving a number of NRL players will determine whether the Adelaide striker has done enough to win The Frownlow Medal.