AFL's illicit drugs policy 'needs overhaul'

ADAM COOPER
Last updated 14:30 29/01/2013

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Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has called for the AFL's illicit drugs policy to be overhauled, claiming the system can no longer deal effectively with the drug problem.

McGuire used a media report that a group of Collingwood players contacted the AFL last year to concede drug use as evidence the system needed readjusting.

The Collingwood players - understood to be at least four - admitted to an AFL medical officer to drug use late last season, the Herald Sun reports, but escaped having a strike put against their names because they reported their drug use with impunity.

Clubs are not informed when a player records a positive drug test - or in this case, self-reports - under the league's illicit drugs policy, until a player records three strikes.

McGuire said he wanted to be "able to run my own club" by drug testing players, even if that put them at greater risk of recording strikes. Players who record three strikes can be suspended for up 18 games.

"We've actually said we will pay the AFL to do more tests on our players and that puts us at risk of losing key players if they (record) three strikes," he said on Triple M.

The self-reporting loophole is likely to be one of several elements to be discussed at an AFL drug summit on Wednesday.

McGuire said he had long known there was a drugs problem in football and called for the current policy to be changed to reflect the issue.

"It ain't a Collingwood issue and we don't care because you know what, we're actually taking this on head-on. We're saying there is a problem," McGuire said.

"I said it in 1998, I said it in 2005 and I'll say it today, on Tuesday, January 29, that there is a big issue in our community and we have taken great steps in football. Now we have to review those steps.

"What we can't be is defensive. We can't have the players' association getting their backs up, we can't have people who have been the architects of the current rule defending a position because it has worked to a degree, now we have to reassess."

AFL Players' Association chief executive Matt Finnis said on Tuesday self-reporting was not common among players.

"No ... we've had this policy in place for several years and this is a procedure which has been included throughout that time, because the policy is actually about knowing players who are using drugs so we can try to help them," he told 3AW.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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