ST KILDA Chief Executive Michael Nettlefold says early notification of a player’s illicit drug use would help clubs educate and help the player.
Speaking ahead of the AFL’s drugs summit on Wednesday, Nettlefold called for a change to the system that gives clubs have no knowledge of a player’s drug use until they have tested positive three times.
“One of the anomalies in the model is that clubs aren’t actually informed by the AFL until a player has three strikes and we all know that doesn’t occur very frequently,” Nettlefold said in an interview on 774 ABC Radio.
“We don’t actually have a window through to who has got issues and who hasn’t got issues. It’s not something we are informed about. It is a medical model so it is an in-confidence model.”
The AFL’s drugs policy was introduced in February, 2007 and Nettlefold said it was time to modernise the system.
“It’s been in place for some time and there is a natural evolution with these policies anyway so it is clearly time that this policy was evolved and discussed and debated,” he said.
“There is certainly a view within the clubs that early notifications meaning we can work with players across these issues is something that would be more ideal for clubs. Getting to a point where someone has a third strike and that is the first a club knows of it puts the club in a difficult position.”
Nettlefold acknowledged that AFL clubs were highly-pressurised environments that placed stress on young players. He also said that while clubs had a duty of care to its players, people were still responsible for their own actions.
“Football clubs have young men ranging from 18 years of age to 30 years of age and we spend a lot of time with these young men. They come into our system at 18 years of age and there is no doubt we have some level of responsibility,” he said.
“Can we be fully responsible for the behaviour of the young men in our system? No, of course we can’t. We don’t run a babysitting service but we certainly need to be involved with welfare programs and we spend a lot of time with them.”