Kennett urges AFL to change drugs stance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kennett urges AFL to change drugs stance

By Sam Lienert 01/09/2010 03:45:26 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has written to the AFL urging the league to change its illicit drugs policy so clubs are informed when a player first tests positive.

The Hawks are adamant young midfielder Travis Tuck, banned for 12 AFL games on Tuesday night under the policy, would have been better off had the club known of his plight earlier.

Tuck recorded a third strike when he was found unconscious by police and transported to hospital on Friday night.

He had been receiving treatment for drug use and depression for 10 months, but Hawthorn were not aware of his battle until the weekend incident.

"I have written again to the chairman of the AFL Commission (Mike Fitzpatrick) about that aspect of the AFL's illicit drug policy, that I have complained about before, privately and publicly, that prohibits the club being informed once a player returns a positive test for using an illicit drug," Kennett said in an open letter to supporters on the Hawks' website.

"As your president, when one of my children is in need I want to be there to help that player or staff member.

"And I say children deliberately, because that is how your board and I consider each of our employees."

Kennett said while Tuck had been receiving medical help as a result of the AFL's scheme, he would have benefited "much more" if Hawthorn had been given the opportunity to offer their resources.

Kennett, who is also the chairman of national depression initiative beyondblue, said if the AFL did not reconsider its policy, a third positive test might come "too late for someone one day".

Hawthorn's push for an alteration of the AFL's policy has won support from Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs.

Magpies coach Mick Malthouse on Tuesday said the "football family" was well equipped to help a player in need, while Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade also said a drug-using player would be better off if club representatives or family members were informed earlier.

But the AFL and AFL players' association have stood by their policy as the best way to successfully treat players affected by drugs.

Under AFL regulations, a player must undergo counselling after the first strike and his club medical officer is informed after the second strike.

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