Hardwick laments Suns drug woes

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has backed AFL senior management to review and change the AFL’s illicit drugs policy.

Hardwick said he was “disappointed” to see photos of Gold Coast player Harley Bennell on the front page of News Cop papers, saying the Suns and the AFL are only dealing with the issue like any group or family in society.

“It’s a community issue overall and from a footy perspective we’re no different,” he said.

“As a father of three, it’s an issue, no doubt about that.”

Hardwick suggested it was inappropriate to put the compromising photo on the front page.

“I feel for the player on the front of the paper, I don’t think it’s something we should be putting there,” he said.

He backed the approach of the club and the league in putting Bennell’s health first.

“The key component here is the welfare of the player,” he said.

“It’s really important and something the AFL in general do very well.

“We just have to make sure we continue to educate our players the risks associated with (illicit drugs).”

Hardwick said he had full confidence in AFL football boss Mark Evans and chief executive Gillon McLachlan to navigate the challenges at the club and complete the league’s review into the “three strikes” illicit drugs policy.

“A policy put in place ten years ago, like anything you put in ten years ago, we outgrow that.

“We’ve got to continue to set the agenda with this.”

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