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Beveridge wants AFL drugs policy axed

3 minute read

Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith faces a ban under the AFL illicit drugs policy, which coach Luke Beveridge wants to see abolished.

BAILEY SMITH. Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has called for the AFL illicit drugs policy to be scrapped as Bailey Smith faces suspension under the controversial system.

Star midfielder Smith will be interviewed by the AFL integrity unit on Tuesday after being caught on video with illicit substances last year.

The video and images emerged last week, with Smith later apologising for "indulging in behaviours in late 2021 of which I am deeply ashamed".

The 21-year-old, who is currently serving a two-match suspension for headbutting an opponent, could be hit with another ban for "conduct unbecoming".

He also faces the possibility of copping a strike under the illicit drugs policy.

Beveridge, who has offered Smith his support, questioned the value of the three-strike policy.

"None of us really feel it works," Beveridge told reporters on Monday.

"Ultimately the clubs, the people, the constituents at the football clubs are here to help and support our players.

"And essentially any player with a clinically diagnosed mental health challenge will never be exposed to the policy anyway."

Beveridge said the Bulldogs will continue to support Smith.

"It's essentially a health issue for him," Beveridge said.

"No one condones the taking of illicit drugs and substances, but it happens in society and, as a father of two young boys who are 23 and 21, I've got a fair understanding that no one is immune to it.

"Bailey is one of those and has succumbed to temptation and he'll learn from it.

"We're really just interested in the future with him and how we can carry him through being better equipped to managing his own health and how he relates to the public as well.

"He essentially almost needs a minder wherever he goes now (because of the attention he gets in public)."

Smith has been outspoken about his mental health battles.

The mullet-adorned midfielder is one of the league's most marketable stars but has struggled to cope with fame during his four seasons with the Bulldogs.

Smith told News Corp he turned to partying last year to deal with his mental health issues, including "chronic anxiety", which were exacerbated by last year's grand final defeat.

"I just had to take that month off, and I didn't know what my future looked like from there," Smith said.

"I didn't know if I'd ever get back to good form, or get back on the straight and narrow.

"There have certainly been really dark days.

"Even now, I haven't brushed my teeth in two days just because of this stuff.

"It does hit me, and I do get waves of chronic anxiety and it's difficult."

Smith told News Corp he almost felt relieved that video and images of him with illicit substances had emerged.

He said he is ready to be held accountable and get help, urging others in a similar position to do the same.

Smith said his parents and girlfriend had been his main supporters, adding that Beveridge had been the first to offer his support last week.

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