Cousins looking forward to AFL comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cousins looking forward to AFL comeback

By Guy Hand 19/11/2008 08:01:29 PM Comments (0)

Ben Cousins is set to return to AFL football next year, despite saying the drug-testing conditions attached to his comeback are harsh.

The recovering drug addict said on Wednesday he was looking forward to being drafted and playing football again after the AFL agreed this week to re-register him as a player.

The league has also given Cousins a seven-day extension to decide whether to nominate for Saturday week's national draft.

But a more likely route back to football after his 12-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute would be via December's pre-season draft, with St Kilda and Brisbane both expressing interest in recruiting the 30-year-old Brownlow Medallist.

In a statement, Cousins described the terms imposed by the AFL for his return as "onerous".

The conditions include agreeing to urine testing up to three times a week, plus hair testing up to four times a year.

Any failure to stick to the conditions would result in Cousins, who has admitted to a drug addiction though he has never tested positive for drugs, being suspended indefinitely pending an investigation.

"I am pleased that the AFL Commission yesterday decided to allow me to enter the AFL draft," Cousins said.

"The conditions imposed on me are very onerous. I am looking forward to being drafted and playing football again, which is my love.

"I have been undertaking a program of rehabilitation which will continue.

"I know that I am in a fit and healthy condition and able to undertake the rigours of playing AFL football again.

"I am very grateful for the ongoing support I have received from the public and especially from those close to me."

Cousins' manager Ricky Nixon had indicated the player could turn his back on a return to the sport because of the conditions attached to the AFL's olive branch.

The AFL Players' Association has also expressed concerns over Cousins being subjected to harsher treatment than the illicit drugs policy agreed to with the AFL.

But AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the league would not back down on the conditions attached to any Cousins comeback.

"They are non-negotiable, they are based on the best medical advice, it is very, very closely aligned with advice given by the medical experts and we've been relying on them because they've been treating Ben Cousins," Demetriou told Fairfax Radio Network.

The AFL said Cousins had asked for more time beyond Wednesday's deadline to consider whether to nominate for the national draft.

"Player Cousins sought an extension today beyond the deadline for delisted player nominations due to the fact he was only notified of the AFL Commission's decision on his application to re-register as a player yesterday," the AFL said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The request for further time was granted by the AFL, due to the extenuating circumstances involved."

Cousins has not played since being sacked by former club West Coast in 2007.

Meanwhile, 43 delisted players have nominated for the national draft.

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