Lions address Smith issue

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

Aggravated sexual assault charges against HIV-positive Saskatchewan Roughrider Trevis Smith are a much bigger issue than the public image of the Canadian Football League, said B.C. Lions' coach Wally Buono.

Surrey RCMP revealed the 29-year-old linebacker was HIV positive Friday, the same day he was arrested in Regina on a Canada-wide warrant. He's due in Surrey provincial court for a bail hearing today.

The Roughriders face B.C. Saturday night at B.C. Place Stadium. Smith is on Saskatchewan's suspended list.

Roughriders' management knew Smith was HIV-positive last year, but he continued to play. The league has no mandatory testing or reporting for HIV.

"This is not a simple issue, there's the privacy act that's a big part of this, the collective agreement is a big part of this," Buono said. Buono said he spoke to players about the matter during Tuesday's practice, the team's first since losing 22-19 Friday to the Edmonton Eskimos.

"You live in a glass bowl," Buono said.

Lions' players deferred comment to offensive lineman Cory Mantyka, the team's CFL Players' Association representative. Mantyka said there has never been a documented case of players spreading HIV in game situations.

"I'm sure there are guys out there playing with some kind of disease that can be spread but hasn't been," Mantyka said. "Guys have concern, and it's warranted, but once the initial tidal wave of shock wears off, guys will calm down and understand."


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