Scrutiny and rumours about the AFL’s drugs policy makes players question its worth, says AFL Players Association president Matthew Pavlich.
The Fremantle great says perceived lack of anonymity and rumours “makes players … question why they voluntarily subject themselves to something that only tarnishes their collective reputations”.
“And that’s the last thing any of us want. Because we believe it (the policy) works,” Pavlich wrote on the association’s website.
Pavlich said controversy sparked by a report that a number of Collingwood players failed drug hair tests overshadowed the season-opening round.
“The headlines were dominated by speculation on perceived illicit drug use within the AFL playing group and, very unfairly, at one club in particular,” Pavlich wrote.
“Unfortunately, over the past few years illicit drug use has become a routine headline. Five years ago it may have shocked us.”
Pavlich said AFL players voluntarily signed to a drugs code that was the toughest in world sport.
“It’s because the players as a collective have signed up to a voluntary code that enables the AFL to go above and beyond in testing for illicit substances,” he said.
“There is no requirement for players to sign up for this voluntary testing. But the AFL players do and its a policy in which we have led the way in world sport.”
Pavlich questioned the consequences from adopting a zero tolerance policy.
“But what would that really achieve? What unintended consequences would that have?” he wrote.
“My sense is that we’d have created a false environment because of fear and rule, rather than one based on leadership, education and the ability to make good decisions.
“The reality is that athletes are human just like everyone else … we make mistakes just like every other human being that walks down the street alongside us.”