By Michael Gleeson
March 10, 2006
At least 15 AFL players have recorded positive tests for recreational drugs after less than a year of the league's new testing regime.
One player has been confirmed to have returned two positive readings under the tests, which cover drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and marijuana.
The second positive reading leaves the player one step from a "third strike" and being publicly exposed and suspended under the Australian Sports Drug Agency's out-of-competition testing system.
AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson would not comment on the specific number of positive tests, but said yesterday the league had more than doubled the number of tests last year, which led to more positive results.
Players were told of the figure in a confronting presentation on illicit drugs by ASDA, the Victoria Police, club doctors and the AFL medical commissioners during the pre-season.
"It was pretty full on, so I suppose it was a bit of a reality check. I think everyone was pretty surprised to hear the 15 figure," said one player, who asked not to be named. The figure is believed to not have been a full-year result and consequently the number of positive tests could be higher. But players were advised that about 15 positive results had been returned in 2005.
Concerned at anecdotal reports of the incidence of illicit drug use, the AFL last year changed its regime to introduce a more targeted approach to testing for recreational drugs. It is understood about 400 tests were carried out by the ASDA last year. Part of the intention of the illicit drug talk this year was evidently to shock players into understanding both the extent of drug use and the health and welfare dangers.
"Under the AFL's illicit drugs policy we are testing more, we are testing at more high-risk times such as at recovery sessions, and with that we will catch more people if they are doing drugs," Mr Anderson said.
"We have more than doubled our testing for stimulants and deliberately targeted high-risk times, and if people take drugs they are at serious risk of being caught.
"ASDA say we have the most extensive illicit drugs testing regime of any sport in the country and so the likelihood is if you take drugs you will be caught."
AFL players are tested under two systems, ASDA and WADA. ASDA rules apply for out-of-competition (or non-match-day testing) and a player is given three strikes. On a third positive test he is publicly identified and faces suspension.
Under the WADA in-competition or match-day testing a player is summarily suspended for two years for any positive test.