AFL boss Andrew Dillon rejects report 100 players have taken advantage of Illicit Drugs Policy

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AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon has reportedly informed all 18 clubs that the league’s Illicit Drugs Policy will retain its current “health-based” form, despite reports that a major revamp to a more “punitive” rule was pending.

According to The Age, Dillon held a private briefing with the club chiefs where he told them bombshell claims that up to 100 players were involved in knowingly circumventing current rules were “wildly exaggerated”.

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The competition has been rocked following MP Andrew Wilkie’s statement in parliament about a former Melbourne Football Club doctor’s claim that AFL teams knowingly exploited the league’s three-strike regulations.

Axed Demons staffer Dr Zeeshan Arain had claimed the league orchestrated clandestine drug tests to assist players who feared testing positive on match day in avoiding being detected.

Arain asserted that club doctors urged players who tested positive privately to feign injuries so as to not have to undergo testing on match days.

On Wednesday evening, former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire told Footy Classified that the league’s powerbrokers “are going to bring in a punitive code”, tipping the new guidelines to be cemented by July to be introduced ahead of next season.

McGuire said the more stringent code would comprise less leniency, outlaying the potential time spent out of the game for a player who tested positive to an illicit substance.

“We’re nominating six weeks (out of the game),” said McGuire on Wednesday. “Now, it might be four weeks, but what they want to do is to normalise it, if you like,” he said.

“So, (for example) ‘Lloyd out; hamstring. Joe Blow out; drugs’.”

However, according to a report by The Age journalists Jake Niall, Andrew Wu and Chris Barrett late Thursday, the AFL’s shift won’t be as “punitive as first thought.

The report says the league’s policy will remain “health-based”, signifying no penalty after the first indiscretion.

The Age also reported Dillon told club representatives that cases of players being rubbed out of games due to a secret positive result were “wildly exaggerated” — which opposes a Wednesday report by the Herald Sun that asserted “about 100” active players have been “granted secret immunity” from the AFL’s policy.

Publicly, in light of the saga and having assessed the validity of Wilkie’s claims, Dillon has said the AFL is currently in the process of reviewing its 19-year-old drugs policy.

The league has also stated it remains “unapologetic” about club doctors taking steps to prevent positive-tested players from playing or training after an admission weekly testing has been taking place for “some time”.

Originally published as AFL boss reportedly rejects idea ‘100 players’ exploit drug policy

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