AFL players and the AFL have a simple message: Say NO to Drugs
AFL players face a stronger regime of in and out of competition and holiday testing for illicit drugs than any other sportsmen around the world. AFL players have two drug policies - the Anti-Doping Code, developed in 1990, which protects the sport from performance-enhancing drug use and enforces the WADA international standards and the illicit Drug policy, introduced in 2005, which tests players for illicit drug use out of competition.
The Illicit Drug policy is a voluntary code agreed to by AFL players. AFL players have also volunteered to further strengthen the policy by agreeing to a trial of holiday hair testing for illicit drugs. All Australian sports are subject to in competition testing. The AFL remains one of only three Australian sports that test for illicit drugs out of competition. The AFL is the only sport where players have volunteered to be subjected to holiday hair testing.
AFL Illicit Drugs Policy (pdf - 3.1 MB)
WHERE TO FIND HELP
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAY"The key benefit of the AFL's illicit drugs policy is to the health and welfare of our players. That is paramount in any decision that we've made in coming to [the implementation] of an illicit drugs policy. We volunteered for the policy a number of years ago and we feel that there are wide-reaching benefits across our group."
Player health No.1 priority in drugs policy
"One of the key points (in implementing the illicit drugs policy) was to send a message to the community that illicit drug use isn't OK and also to make sure that our own backyard was clean and help teammates who were going down that track."
Hair testing a major refinement
"The key to the AFL policy is that it helps educate and rehabilitate players, not name and shame them ... which is very important. It's a policy that goes over and above any other sporting organisation's policy and it's a policy the players are very proud of."
Education and rehabilitation paramount
"We as AFL players love this game and it is certainly something that we want the parents of young players coming into the AFL and AFL fans in general, understanding that the players are steadfast in ensuring that it's a clean sport, it's a healthy sport and it's one that everyone should be involved in."
Policy promotes healthy, clean sport
Retired head of Victoria Police's Purana TaskforceDirector of Addiction Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital
"The police approach [to illicit drug use] is also one of harm minimisation and has been for a number of years and that's consistent with what the AFL is doing. I think it's important whether it's parents, sports administrations, whole professions or employers that we do everything that we can to tackle the problem and provide some early intervention."
Rehabilitation the key
"The most important thing is that drug problems are health problems; they're not criminal problems, they're not moral problems and one of the reasons I am so supportive of the AFL's illicit drug policy is that it treats it as a health issue and not as a moral problem or as a criminal problem."
Expert lauds policy's message
Chairperson - Multiple and Complex Needs Panel
Founding Director – Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Melbourne
"The players have really taken this onboard and I think it's quite remarkable that [the AFL] managed to get an agreement with the players of the sort that they have. I think this means that the players are keen to look after their mates, they're keen to be supported in doing that and they're keen to be recognised as people who don't use drugs and people who are careful with alcohol use."
'Three strikes' criticism unfounded