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‘They’re called balls and they haven’t got them’ Collingwood legend slams AFL over drugs policy

Collingwood legend Tony Shaw has slammed the AFL over their recreational drugs policy, saying it normalises use and can lead to substance abuse problems. 

The issue of drug use in the AFL has resurfaced after Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson, a man who won two premierships as a player and two more as a coach, admitted in court on Wednesday to being a drug taker, using the deadly drug ice to mask the pain of leaving football.

Speaking with on Breakfast with Mark Levy and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell, Shaw says the AFL’s controversial 3-strikes policy is too lenient and suggests an illicit drugs-related death is inevitable.

“Someone is going to die and if they die using, and you’ve got a policy like this to give them three chances of getting hooked, gee, the AFL, someone could sue them for a lot of money,” he said.

“If you look to the last month of what’s happened with the AFL… they haven’t had a great month let alone a great couple of years about how to set up a drugs policy,

“There’s a couple of things between your legs if you’re a man, we call them balls and they [the AFL] haven’t got them,” he said.

Illicit drug use within the AFL has been in the spotlight this year amid criticisms of leniency and mental health loop-hole exploitations. Recently retired St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt said drug use in the game was “out of control”.

Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson’s alarming fall from grace sees the former champion currently defending charges of possession and trafficking of illicit drugs, allegedly found in his Port Melbourne home during a police raid in 2018.

Thompson told the court his drug use spiralled after leaving the AFL “in a bad way” following Essendon’s supplements saga, but Shaw wonders whether earlier signs of Thompson’s drug use were not picked up by friends and colleagues.

“Bomber, ripper bloke, you wouldn’t get a better bloke, I worked with him on 3AW but I think, after working with the bloke, there were signs even then, it was going around for a long period of time,” he said.

“I don’t know whether it was just the Essendon saga, I’m not sure,

“He’s a premiership coach, a premiership player, and to think that this has happened to the man, we might even see him do some jail time after this,

“The pressures of football, either playing or coaching – can get to blokes and I think this will be a wake-up call to the AFL, to think that one of their greatest people in football has turned to drugs, to not turn a blind eye to what’s happening off-field and away for the game,

“The AFL has to really look at this, we talk about gambling becoming the new drug, well, drugs are still there so let’s not kid ourselves,”

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