AFL let us down over Tuck, say Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL let us down over Tuck, say Hawks

By Sam Lienert 01/09/2010 07:56:44 AM Comments (0)

Hawthorn have accused the AFL of letting them down and denying midfielder Travis Tuck the optimum support in his battle with drugs and depression through their controversial illicit drugs policy.

Tuck, the 22-year-old son of AFL games record-holder Michael Tuck, was on Tuesday night suspended for 12 AFL matches after becoming the first player to front a Tribunal hearing under the three strikes policy.

The league issued Tuck with a third strike after he was found unconscious by police and transported to hospital on Friday night.

He had twice previously tested positive to illicit drugs under the league's testing regime.

It was also revealed on Tuesday night that Tuck had been receiving counselling for both drug use and depression for the past 10 months, a factor that the tribunal counted as a mitigating circumstance in imposing a penalty.

But Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox said the club only became aware of the issues confronting Tuck after Friday night's incident.

"The club is deeply concerned that we now find one of our players suspended from the game under the policy, without actually having been able to provide a comprehensive network of support, guidance and counselling around him," Fox said on Tuesday night.

The AFL's policy of maintaining confidentiality over players until they notch a third strike has been controversial, with several clubs having pushed to be told earlier.

AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson defended the policy, saying the fact that Tuck was directed into counselling as a result of his first strike possibly saved him from ending up worse off than he did.

But Fox criticised that view.

"It could have been worse, it could have also been a lot better," he said.

He said Hawthorn and Tuck would both have been better off if the club was kept informed.

"We could have provided a comprehensive network of support around Travis," he said.

"Let me assure you, finding out about this issue 48 hours ago has been frustrating and fair to say it's been very difficult to deal with, not having any knowledge of what Travis has been having to deal with."

The closed hearing, chaired by former Victorian County Court Judge John Hassett with Tuck in attendance, lasted more than three-and-a-half hours.

The initial penalty of a 12-match ban and $5,000 fine was reduced due to the "exceptional and compelling circumstances" of Tuck having been receiving treatment for depression.

It meant the financial penalty was wiped off, while the totality of the ban will apply only to AFL games, with Tuck able to return to VFL football after eight games.

The Hawks will also give Tuck, who has played 20 AFL matches since making his debut in 2007 but none this year, the chance to battle for a spot on their rookie list next season.

Under recently introduced AFL rules, clubs can leave one rookie spot open until the end of the pre-season.

If Tuck does not earn that spot, the Hawks will seek to place him on their inactive list, which caters for players with medical issues, with Anderson indicating the league was likely to look favourably on such a request.

Police have confirmed they will not charge Tuck, whose older brother Shane plays for Richmond.

"We don't want to discourage people when they find themselves in need of some medical assistance or some medical treatment ... from actually calling police and asking for help," Victoria Police deputy commissioner Kieran Walshe told reporters on Tuesday.

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