AFL set to ramp up three-strikes policy

A four-match ban for a second strike is set to be a key feature in an overhaul of the AFL’s controversial illicit drugs policy.

A working party involving the league and players has reviewed the policy and the new version could be announced as early as next week.

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that a second strike would also carry a $5000 fine, while a third strike would mean a 12-game ban and a $10,000 penalty.

They represent a dramatic increase in punishments under the policy.

The current three-strikes policy, introduced in 2005, is separate to the league’s standard anti-doping code.

The players agreed to the illicit drugs regime, with no changes to happen without their approval.

It has been a lightning rod for criticism because of features such as anonymity and players being able to self-report.

Under the current system, only AFL medical directors and club doctors are told of a first or second strike.

The AFL wants the new policy in place before players start their annual leave, which is regarded as the high-risk period for illicit drug use.

Apart from much harsher penalties, the revised system is set to also feature more sophisticated monitoring and counselling.

But the players remain insistent that clubs should still not be told of a first positive test.

A first strike would mean a suspended $5000 fine, counselling and target testing for the player.

The perils of illicit drug use for players were emphasised last month when Collingwood pair Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas accepted two-year bans for doping offences.

They tested positive under the league’s anti-doping code for the banned substance clenbuterol, which they suspect was in illicit drugs they had taken.

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