Kennett slams kneejerk AFL over three-strike policy
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou (L) and AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick address the media after the Australian Crime Commission released a report on drugs and organised crime in Australian sport. Pic: Getty Images

Former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has delivered a withering attack on the AFL's "three-strike" policy which sees the identity of players found using illegal substances concealed until their third offence.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has argued that the policy is designed in the interest of the player and his welfare.

In the wake of the Australian Crime Commission releasing its findings on drugs in sport, the AFL immediately announced a list of emergency measures in an attempt to catch absuers.

However, former Victoria Premier Kennett accused the league of a "kneejerk reaction" and said the AFL has not been doing enough to tackle the problem. He also said any player found guilty of using illegal substances should automatically be banned for a year.

"The AFL drug code is unenforceable, it's obviously abused and evaded and misused," he said.

"The only policy that will work in the interests of the clubs, the AFL and the players, is a zero tolerance policy to drugs, be they illicit or performance-enhancing."

Speaking to ABC 24, Kennett said he wanted an immediate ban for drug-taking players, adding: "If after a year they wish to continue, that is the club and the player, with a career, then that can be done.

"But if there is a second positive test, that player is out of the code for life.

"I'm afraid the AFL's kneejerk reaction last night, rushing back from Canberra, having a meeting, putting out a whole range of new issues without addressing the core issue, is just another sign that the AFL is not prepared to take this issue seriously.

"They have always argued 'we are putting the interests of the player first'. That hasn't worked.

"The AFL has known about those players who have been taking illicit drugs. The clubs have not known.

"The AFL, according to a report yesterday, has been encouraging doctors to tell coaches that a player is unfit to play, when in fact that player is undergoing rehabilitation. So doctors are being told to tell an untruth or to mislead coaches.

"That is not the environment for a responsible person to be involved in."

Kennett also called for a clampdown on sports betting in Australia.

"Now if the federal government's serious, they have a role in this too, while some have argued 'ban sports betting'," he said.

"I'm not sure you can do that, but you can certainly ban the promotion of sports betting."

The West Australian

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