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Grant Thomas calls for crackdown over AFL players taking recreational drugs

Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas says it’s time for action by the AFL to address the issue of alleged recreational drug-use by some of the code’s star players.

The seriousness of the issue only became apparent in the last week when a number of former players and coaches came out suggesting drug-taking has been well apart of the game for a number of years.

Thomas revealed that he was told drug use was “rife” throughout his coaching tenure in the early 2000s.

The 61-year-old says players need to be named.

“I think we’ve fluffed around the edges for long enough,” Thomas said.

“If the penny hasn’t dropped now, perhaps the horse has bolted.

“I just think part of the regime or process we’ve had in place has allowed certain behaviour by players over the last 15 years that we’re probably going to pay the price for in the long term.

“I’m a stronger advocate for naming and more disciplined things in place from the get go.

“I look at the NFL at their regime, if you’re caught with a recreational drug (or) taking a recreational drug you’re put in a 90-day program and you’re named and shamed straightaway if you like.

“You’re tested 10 times in that 90 days and if you test positive again in that 90 days, you go to stage two where you are suspended and if you get to stage three you’re out of the game and that’s it.”

On Monday, Macquarie Sports Radio Drive host David Schwarz was critical of AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh over his management of the issue.

“I have at least a dozen ex team-mates that are now drug affected because of their use of drugs whilst playing,” Schwarz said.

“If I was Paul Marsh, I’d be listening and I’d be listening loud and clear before he has a number of deaths on his hands.”

“Yes, you’ve got a job to do to protect a players image, but you’ve got to protect their lives first and foremost.”

It’s hardly a great look for Australian sport with a stain painted on the AFL in a similar manner to that of which has rocked the NRL this off-season.


Click ‘play’ to hear the full discussion below.