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Recreational drug use currently "out of control" in the AFL: Riewoldt


St Kilda champion and recently retired player Nick Riewoldt believes recreational drug use in the AFL is “out of control”.

Riewoldt said the current policy allows players to abuse the system.

“I think (drug use is out of control),” he told SEN Breakfast.

“It’s out of control now because the players can, that’s the way they players can.

“The AFL, by their own admission on their own website, what the policy is designed to do is to identify players with substance abuse issues and place support around them to protect their health and wellbeing.

“Now, the vast majority of players don’t have substance abuse issues, they’re taking the p--s because the system allows it.

“Hair testing in the off-season and during the season, that’s only to identify the numbers.

“There’s no recourse, there’s no ramifications, it’s a free-for-all.

“It depends what your definition of out of control is. I would say it’s out of control.”

Riewoldt’s solution to the problem is hitting players with a four-week ban on the first strike.

“What I would say, if they’re serious about getting the number closer to zero, remove the safety net,” he said.

“If players do have a legitimate substance abuse issue, then getting a suspension on their first detection is probably the least of their worries. They need to get their life together.

“The blokes that are just doing it because they can, because the system allows them to get away with, you’re telling me if they’re getting a four-week ban for first detection, they’re going to do it? I don’t think they’re that stupid. They’re not going to do it because they’re going to get suspended and everyone’s going to know.

“Right now, the only deterrent is the Shane Mumford situation where you get caught doing it.

“If your utopia is zero, we’re a long way from zero. I think (Paul Marsh) said society is at about 30 per cent and I would say that would be out of control (in an AFL club).”

AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh spoke to SEN Breakfast earlier in the morning.

"Every single player in the competition gets hair tested twice a year so I think we’ve got a very good handle on the prevalence of drug issues. I’ve said a number of times - we know that there are AFL players that are using illicit drugs," Marsh said.

"What I do know is that we are doing a good job but it’s an ongoing issue. This isn’t going to go away.

"It’s an issue in society that is getting bigger and worse. We’ve got a policy that’s been put in place by medical experts I think some people just need to take some time to understand what is in place."


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