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AFL players 'not buying' illicit drug talk

AFL Players' Association chief Paul Marsh is adamant a more hardline illicit drug policy is unlikely to win the support of players.

AFL players 'not buying' illicit drug talk

AFL Players' Association chief Paul Marsh is adamant a more hardline illicit drug policy is unlikely to win the support of players.

AFL players' chief Paul Marsh has rubbished talk of changes to the game's illicit drug code, suggesting a more hardline policy is unlikely to win support.

The AFL has confirmed it is reviewing its illicit drug code amid concerns some players have used mental health issues as an excuse to avoid sanction.


Under the policy, players who receive a second strike for illicit drug use are publicly named and serve a four-match suspension.

No player has been suspended since the policy - which has been voluntarily agreed to by the players and is aimed more at harm minimisation than punishment - changed from three strikes to two just over three years ago.

St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt last week poured fuel on the debate by calling for a zero-tolerance approach to fix a situation he labelled "out of control".

AFL clubs also want changes, with prominent presidents Jeff Kennett and Peter Gordon complaining about the lack of information provided about positive tests

But the AFL Players' Association remains steadfast that talk of a drug crisis is highly exaggerated.

"The players aren't really buying into it," Marsh told reporters at the AFLPA season launch in Melbourne.

"It seems to be a topic that pops up this time every year. The conversation never really seems to change.

"It is something that we'd agreed with the AFL when we reviewed it in 2016, that we'd review it in 2020.

"We'll do that but honestly, it's a lot of white noise about an issue that is very complex and a lot of people are trying to simplify the issue. We're pretty comfortable with where things are at."

The current policy expires next year and the AFL has said the joint review will include consultation with clubs, players and medical professionals.

"It's a joint policy and it's always been a welfare policy. Players wouldn't have agreed to it (otherwise)," Marsh said.

"We agreed to it because we do want to identify players who are having issues with illicit drugs and we want to help them."

AAP


AAP




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