The West

AFL urged to close drug loophole
AFL urged to close drug loophole

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett and Fremantle counterpart Steve Rosich have called for the removal of a loophole in the AFL's illicit drug testing policy which enables players to avoid positive tests by self-reporting their own use.

Nisbett is hopeful that there will be agreement between players and administrators to close the loophole at the AFL's drug summit next week.

Rosich said although AFL clubs had only anecdotal knowledge of abuse of the loophole it was clearly a departure from what the AFL's illicit drug testing policy was designed to achieve.

"Clearly there is an opportunity to tighten that up and we would think that would occur," he said.

Nisbett, at the helm at West Coast along with former chairman Mark Barnaba when the club addressed off-field issues and pushed greater education and a player-led culture to handle off-field behavioural and drug issues, said AFL players were far less likely to use illicit drugs than young people in general society.

But he said the self-reporting loophole was open to abuse.

"I think the AFL's intention is to try and tighten up some of the policy," Nisbett said. "I think it is the self-reporting that is the issue.

"When guys can head out at night and if they inadvertently or on purpose do take a drug they can go and self-report and there is no strike against their name.

"I think that is defeating the purpose of what the players and the competition agreed to."

Any change to the policy has to be agreed to by players. Geelong champion James Bartel has expressed concern about the loophole and Nisbett was cautiously optimistic most players would support a tightening of the rules.

He said spikes in positive drug tests were expected from time to time, and given there were just six positive tests in 2011, an increase in 2012 figures - to be released this year - was likely.

But he was confident that players were far less likely to use drugs than other members of society.

The West Australian

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