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AFL star Brock McLean reveals how he would make himself throw up during battle with bulimia


AFL star Brock McLean opens up on his four-year battle with bulimia – revealing at one point was ‘barely eating anything’ to meet coaches’ weight expectations

  • Brock McLean played 157 career AFL games, also battled an eating disorder
  • Former Carlton and Melbourne midfielder often questioned his self-worth
  • Fellow ex-player Daniel Jackson also said he developed a weight ‘obsession’

Former AFL star Brock McLean has revealed his inner-demons after battling bulimia for much of his storied career.

The ex-Carlton and Melbourne midfielder opened up about his eating disorder on the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, which will air on Wednesday night.

McLean often forced himself to throw up after treating himself to some chocolate or lollies, and was ‘barely was eating anything’ at the height of his career to meet club-imposed weight expectations.

‘I suffered from bulimia for three-to-four years of my career,’ McLean said on the show.

Brock McLean (pictured with sister Ellie) battled bulimia for ‘three to four years’ during his storied AFL career

‘It is also a misconception [that] because players are making hundreds of thousands of dollars, they are not susceptible to depression.

‘I suffered in silence, acting like nothing was wrong. It drains so much of your energy because you put this barrier up. I’d just go home, lie in my room and cry.’

Fellow ex-player Daniel Jackson, who was on the books of Richmond, also revealed he had an unhealthy ‘obsession’ with his weight.

He often found himself on the scales before eating dinner, and if he didn’t like his weight, he would eat tiny portions of salad instead of a hearty meal. 

When he reflects on that time of his life, Jackson believes he didn’t enjoy his privileged lifestyle, as it was ‘hard work’.

McLean, who battled an alcohol and drug problem and suffered from depression when he was a professional athlete, is proud of his on-field achievements across a 157 game career – but admitted his self-worth improved after retiring.

The former Carlton and Melbourne midfielder (pictured middle) often used to punish himself by throwing up soon after eating chocolate or lollies

The former Carlton and Melbourne midfielder (pictured middle) often used to punish himself by throwing up soon after eating chocolate or lollies 

The ABC show also featured insight from 2005 Sydney Swans premiership winner Jude Bolton and ex-rugby league stars Willie Mason, Ian Roberts and Dean Widders.

The quartet all agreed there are gay players in both footy codes who have kept their sexuality a secret.

In January, singer Jack Vidgen, one of the drawcards on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! revealed he knows ’10 or 12′ closet gay AFL players. 

‘I would never say their names, but they wouldn’t come out anyway,’ he said. ‘It would be a really hard thing to go through in that industry.’

According to DNA, comedian Joel Creasey confirmed he was previously involved in an ongoing casual sexual relationship with a player from the Sydney Swans.

Do you need to talk to someone?

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au

Beyond Blue’s coronavirus support service: 1800 512 348 or coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au 



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