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Cowan sees AFL drug plan flaws
Cowan sees AFL drug plan flaws

AFL players will continue to abuse flaws in the competition's three strikes drugs policy unless club officials are given more power to deal with the scourge, according to former deputy premier Hendy Cowan.

Despite supporting the general three strikes notion as "a good start", Cowan, who co-authored a 2008 report into the drugs furore that rocked West Coast last decade, said keeping club officials in the dark over a player's drug use until he registered a third strike was "nonsense".

His comments came on the back of the AFL's drug summit in Melbourne on Wednesday, which forecast only minor changes to the existing policy.

Cowan said it was not feasible for football clubs to ask players to put themselves at physical risk on the field and then expect themselves to live risk-free private lives.

He said club officials, who they dealt with most closely, had a better chance of helping them through drug problems if notified earlier.

"We recommended very strongly that the individual clubs have much more to say about the use of illegal drugs," Cowan said of his Eagles drugs report.

"I felt the clubs needed to have more responsibility to deal with this particular issue.

"They are their players and to not be involved is just nonsense because they are directly responsible for them.

"We saw that as being absolutely ludicrous and felt the three strikes policy needed to be reviewed because it's a bloody joke.

"Once you get picked up a second time, you are in a serious situation and the club should be in a position to help them rehabilitate.

"If you get to a second strike, the intervention obviously hasn't worked and the club has to get involved and, at the moment, the club is prevented from being involved by the AFL."

Cowan believed that once a player had tested positive for illegal drugs, a club's chief executive should have the right to organise target testing on him from that point.

He said he was not surprised by the strong culture resurgence at West Coast because they had made the crucial move of handing more behavioural responsibility and its policing to their players.

But he said the league's investigation into West Coast, which had been conducted by former Victorian Supreme Court justice Bill Gillard, had seen them pass up a "golden opportunity" to tackle the wider problem in the game.

"They were so keen on focusing on the Eagles alone they forgot about all the other clubs," he said.