Hair tests key to AFL drugs regime: Evans

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans says hair testing is the way of the future for the league’s illicit drug testing regime.

Evans said the league favours hair tests, which are currently on a player-supported in-season trial, because they detect drug use for the previous three months.

“I think it’s the way of the future,” Evans told Melbourne’s RSN radio.

“Hair tests are fantastic in the amount of information they give.

“It can tell things about dosage level and whether alcohol is being consumed at the same time.”

Hair testing has previously been conducted out of season and players who return positive tests do not record a strike.

Evans said the AFL will discuss hair testing with the player’s association once the trial finishes at the end of the season.

However, it’s unlikely hair testing would be part of the current illicit drugs policy review.

Reports on Wednesday claimed the new policy was imminent and would include a four-match ban and a $5000 fine for a second strike, with a third strike drawing a 12-game ban and a $10,000 penalty.

However Evans said there was still work to be done with the players’ association before it could be finalised.

“The discussions with the PA have been good but there’s still a little bit of a way to go, we’re still a little bit apart on some things,” Evans said.

The illicit drugs policy has come under fire because of features such as anonymity and players being able to self-report.

Evans said under his proposal players would only be able to self-report if they had not been previously detected.

He said players were not taking drugs at higher rates than the wider community.

“AFL footballers are remarkably better in avoiding this behaviour than the general population and so they should be – they accept that,” he said.

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