Tuck apologises for drug episode - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tuck apologises for drug episode

01/09/2010 05:49:58 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn youngster Travis Tuck has apologised for the incident which resulted in him becoming the first player suspended under the AFL's illicit drugs policy.

The son of AFL games record-holder Michael Tuck said he took full responsibility for his actions in Friday night's episode in which he was found unconscious by police and taken to hospital.

"I have been dealing with personal and medical issues for the past 12 months and following some intensive treatment I really felt that I had come a long way," he said on the Hawks' website.

"Friday night was a big setback for me and I understand the anxiety it has caused my family, friends and the Hawthorn football club, and for that I am truly sorry."

The AFL issued the 22-year-old with a third strike under its drugs policy as a result, and he was last night handed a 12-match suspension.

The incident has caused controversy over the AFL's three strikes policy to resurface, with Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett writing to the league to say that clubs should be informed when players first test positive.

Kennett has warned that help might come "too late for someone one day" under the AFL's three strikes illicit drugs policy.

But the AFL has hit back, arguing there would be no policy, and therefore no treatment, if Kennett's push to scrap the confidentiality aspect of the current scheme succeeded.

The Hawks are adamant that Tuck would have been better off had the club known of his plight earlier.

Tuck's drug use and clinical depression became public after he was taken to hospital last Friday night.

Kennett, who pledged the Hawks' ongoing support for Tuck, wrote to the AFL urging them to change their regulations so that clubs are informed when a player first tests positive.

That push is gathering momentum, with Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade also calling on Wednesday for the policy to be altered, following similar comments from Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse.

Hawthorn officials knew nothing of Tuck's battle with drugs and depression before the weekend.

"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, also the chairman of national depression initiative beyondblue, said the AFL might eventually have cause to regret maintaining its current stance.

"To have the AFL inform the club after a third positive test, might just be too late for someone one day."

Eade agreed that Tuck's case highlighted the need for parties other than AFL and club medical staff to be informed earlier.

"Other people than just the club doctor need to know, at least after the second (strike), so there can be help," he said.

"Whether it's family involved or people at the club, I'm not too sure who needs to know. But someone needs to know."

But AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the policy would fold if confidentiality was removed, as player support would evaporate.

"If a club was required to know under the policy, this would never have been detected," Anderson told reporters.

"The treatment Travis has been receiving over the last year has been fundamental to him being in the position he's in today.

"It could easily have been much worse if we had said to the players, 'The only way we can have this policy is to tell the presidents and coaches and CEOs'. There would be no policy and no detection."

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