AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is uncertain what can be done to help Ben Cousins, saying the fallen star’s battle with drug addiction is “as bad as ever”.
McLachlan says the AFL is prepared to help Cousins in any way – but he’s just not sure how.
“He (Cousins) has had a terrible struggle for a number of years now and I understand that at the moment it is as bad as ever,” McLachlan told reporters in Perth on Thursday.
“Drug addiction is a huge challenge for the community.
“We will do whatever we can. Part of the issue is what to do is not evident.
“But be very clear: the AFL will take on whatever role we can to help Ben.
“We are in a much better place to have the right type of relationships (with clubs) and to understand the issues.”
McLachlan arrived in Perth for a visit coinciding with West Coast’s celebrations of its 2006 premiership victory, which some say is tainted because of off-field drug issues suffered by some of the Eagles’ premiership-winners.
Earlier this week, Cousins was collected by police after he was reportedly directing traffic on a busy Perth road.
The Bronwlow medallist and former Eagles captain was incoherent and was taken to hospital for observation before being released.
Responding to recent comments from Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett that the AFL gave him an inquisition, rather than assistance, when he initially sought help for Cousins, rather than any assistance, McLachlan said the AFL had “come a long way in the past decade”.
McLachlan’s visit to Perth coincides with West Coast’s celebrations of its 2006 premiership victory, which some say is tainted because of off-field drug issues affecting some of the Eagles’ premiership-winners.
McLachlan said he believed the Eagles side that beat Sydney in the 2006 grand final was a well-coached, strong-running and great AFL team.
“Clearly there are some individuals who have had significant challenges since. That is clearly disappointing on a number of fronts,” he said.
“But I don’t believe it takes anything away from the merit and significance of the win.”