AFL General Manager of Football Operations, Adrian Anderson (centre) details the results of the competition's Illicit Drugs Policy

Drugs Testing Working

Friday, June 24, 2011

The AFL Players’ Association and the AFL has released the 2010 out-of-competition Illicit Drug Policy results, which showed that the rate of failed tests has reduced ten-fold across the life of the policy since its introduction in 2005.

Across more than 1600 tests in the 12-month period, the results showed the rate of failed tests has dropped for the fifth consecutive year, after the largest number of tests were undertaken since the policy’s commencement.

In 2010, the AFL conducted 1654 tests, increasing from the previous mark of 1568 tests, with a total of six failed tests recorded. This represented 0.36 per cent of all tests conducted.

Since the policy was begun in 2005, the rate of failed tests has now dropped each year from 4.03 per cent (2005), through 1.85 per cent (2006), 1.2 per cent (2007), 0.98 per cent (2008), 0.89 per cent (2009) and now 0.36 per cent (2010).

AFL football, with the agreement of the AFL playing group across the competition, remains the only sport in Australia to publicly release its testing figures for illicit drugs and the operation of this policy has now seen well over six thousand tests conducted through the last six years.

Of the six failed tests for the 2010 testing period, one player recorded a second failed test, while Travis Tuck recorded a third failed test. Players that have recorded a failed test continue to be target-tested, as part of the policy. A total of 6552 tests have been conducted since the policy was introduced.

AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said the players were encouraged by the continuing downward trend in positive results, but that this was not a cause for complacency.

“AFL players have taken a leadership position on this very important issue and the results speak for themselves, with the rate of positive tests falling strongly since the policy was introduced in 2005,” said Finnis.

“Clearly the complex issue surrounding illicit drug use are the same for the broader community as they are for AFL players. The events of last year demonstrate this and we have confidence in the medical model which underpins this policy.”

“Our education around this issue is clearly having a positive effect, and the players should be congratulated for taking a hands-on, proactive role in seeking to curb risky behaviours amongst their peers.”

AFL General Manager Football Operations Adrian Anderson said the body of testing results the AFL Medical Commissioners had gathered over the past six years now showed conclusively that the Illicit Drug Policy was being successful in changing behaviour.

Mr Anderson said the introduction in 2010 of mandatory referrals to a drug and alcohol specialist for any player with a failed test had been successful, while he also thanked club officials for their support in identifying ‘at risk’ individuals within clubs who required extra support.

“The achievement of a 10-fold reduction in failed test numbers is a testimony to the success of the policy in being able to change behaviour, as well as the leadership of our player group in taking on such a policy, when they had no requirement to do so,” Mr Anderson said.

“Illicit drug use is a major issue in our society, and particularly within the young in our community, and we know that our players are not immune to poor decisions in regard to the use of illicit drugs.

AFL Medical Commissioner Dr Peter Harcourt was invited to present the policy’s approach and the long-term policy results at the Third International Olympic  Committee (IOC) World Conference on the Prevention of Injury and Illness  in Sport in Monaco earlier this year, where the achievement of a 10-fold decrease in positive tests attracted the support of international delegates.

Mr Anderson noted that the policy was now gaining international recognition as a world leader in the management of illicit substances in sport. “The policy and its achievements have attracted considerable interest from sporting organisations in North America and Europe for its cutting edge approach in going above and beyond the WADA code to deal with the issue of illicit drug use in sport.”

“AFL players, as a group, continue to lead the way in showing that they seek to change behaviour around the use of illicit drugs and the testing results under the policy clearly show behaviour changes, with a drop in the numbers of failed tests despite yearly increases in the numbers of tests being conducted.

“The focus on education, intervention, rehabilitation and welfare, with the opportunity for players to change their behaviour, has shown to be effective.”

The AFL is one of only three sports in the country that currently has an Illicit Drug policy where players are tested for illicit drugs out of competitions. The AFL is the only sport that publishes its results each year.

AFL ILLICIT DRUG POLICY RESULTS – YEAR BY YEAR

Year

Total Test numbers

Total Failed Tests

2nd Failed Tests

3rd Failed Tests

Failed tests %

2005

472

19

3

0

4.03

2006

486

9

0

0

1.85

2007

1152

14

3

0

1.2

2008

1220

12

2

0

0.98

2009

1568

14

2

0

0.89

2010

1654

6

1

1

0.36

 

The breakdown by type is as follows:

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Cannabinoids

6

0

4

3

1

1

Stimulants

12

8

10

8

13

5

Mixed

1

1

0

1

0

0

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