NONE of the six players who failed illicit drugs tests last year tested positive to cannabis, a result the AFL described as remarkable. The league was forced to defend a reduction in the number of tests carried out as all six players who tested positive were first strikes in the three-strikes-and-out policy under the illicit drugs-outside-of-competition code. Although AFL medical director Peter Harcourt said ”three or four” footballers were still playing with two strikes, he said the policy continued to be a successful deterrent. ”The pool of players that have got a detection is shrinking every year and the number with two detections is shrinking each year as well. It’s only a few players,” Harcourt said. He said in most cases players had taken drugs as a result of poor decision-making during a night out when alcohol and illicit drugs had been freely available. It was the first year since 2006 that no player tested positively for cannabis, with all positive tests being for stimulants, which include cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines – any drug that speeds up the nervous system. League operations manager Adrian Anderson said he was surprised by the result, considering 30 per cent of men aged 20 to 30 try marijuana and other illicit drugs. ”It is an outstanding and incredible result when you compare it with what’s happening in the wider community,” Anderson said. ”We’ve put this in place to try and be a support network and to intervene and reduce the use of illicit drugs.”
There were also six positives to illicit drugs in 2010, although the number of tests dropped last year, from 1654 in 2010 to 1489. Anderson and Harcourt defended the reduction in tests. ”There was no real intent in reducing the numbers, it just so happened that from a logistical perspective we ran a shorter number because we had an aggressive strategy to do more weekend [testing],” Harcourt said. Anderson was pleased testing had ”stabilised” at six positives, although he admitted he would have preferred to have seen a continued fall. ”When you bear in mind that 30 per cent of blokes aged 20-to-30 in the community are trying illicit drugs, it’s naive to think that no player will.” Under the policy, players are named publicly only if they test positive three times in an out-of-competition scenario. Those who test positive for the first or second times are afforded counselling and advice by their club doctors and external drug experts. Any players who test positive three times to illicit drugs in out-of-competition testing can be suspended for up to 18 matches. In 2010, Hawthorn’s Travis Tuck became the first player to be suspended under thethree strikes policy. He was banned for 12 matches and fined $5000 and has since been delisted and is now playing in the VFL for Werribee.
via : watoday
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