The West

The contentious issue of players self-reporting their use of illicit substances will be a key item on the agenda at Wednesday's AFL drugs summit.

It has come to light in recent weeks that several players had used the self-reporting option to avoid one of three strikes in the AFL's out-of-competition testing program for illicit drugs.

Under the system, a club is only informed - and the player becomes eligible for suspension - once they have returned three positive tests.

It is separate to the in-competition testing program for performance-enhancing and illicit drugs, both of which involve suspensions in the event of any positive tests.

Several clubs are understood to want stiffer penalties to kick in after one or two strikes.

They would also like to be notified earlier following transgressions by their players.

The AFL Players Association are aware of such concerns, although association chief executive Matt Finnis was at pains to stress the illicit drugs policy only existed due to the ongoing permission of the playing group.

"The policy has contained a provision (of self-reporting) for any number of years now," Finnis told SEN Radio on Tuesday.

"Therefore a player who has used drugs, who has an issue with drugs, can put his hand up and seek help.

"That's because the nature of this policy is based upon helping people to make change when they've made a mistake.

"It's only been in very recent times that there has been this dialogue about whether or not that particular provision is capable of being abused."

The illicit drugs policy was established in 2005, covering substances such as marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.

In eight years, the only player to have recorded three strikes was former Hawthorn utility Travis Tuck.

News Limited reported that a group of at least four Collingwood players were among those who had recently taken advantage of the self-reporting clause, but Magpies president Eddie McGuire was furious at a leak he felt must have come from the AFL.

"They're the ones that have got the information," he told Triple M Radio.

"It strikes me as a bit odd that the day before we have a drug summit that has probably brought the heat on a whole lot of the issues involved here that have been fostered by the Collingwood Football Club, that suddenly it becomes a Collingwood issue.

"It isn't a Collingwood issue and we don't care because you know what? We're actually tackling this head on. We're saying there's a problem."

Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert was a leading figure behind the establishment of the drugs summit after he aired concerns in November about the "volcanic" behaviour of some players during the off-season.

- Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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