The AFL has released a statement regarding the illicit drugs policy, following a report in the Herald Sun on Thursday, claiming that 11 Collinwgood players returned positive tests during the off-season.

The league confirmed that “competition-wide hair testing” was conducted during the off-season, but said the results of the testing will not be made public.

Earlir on Saturday, AFL Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh, claimed on Macquarie Radio that the figures reported in the Herald Sun were inaccurate.

“It’s really disappointing on a few fronts. One it is inaccurate,” Marsh said.

“Secondly, we’ve just agreed to a new policy with the industry and one of the things we agreed to is confidentiality and we see no reason and it’s of no benefit to be playing this out publicly.

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“For someone to be talking about this, it’s a speculative article. I don’t know where it’s come from.”

AFL STATEMENT:

The AFL conducted competition-wide hair hair testing for illicit drugs in the players’ holiday period.

This competition wide testing is done with the agreement of the AFLPA, and is part of a new Illicit Drugs Policy. The testing in the holiday period is agreed to by the players, and is part of informing the code regarding drug use.

The AFL Illicit Drugs Policy was changed last year, and the changes include increased intervention at all positive tests and stronger penalties, including suspensions on a second positive test.

The new policy regime will be in force this year.

Mark Evans, AFL General Manager of Football Operations said that the new policy gives the code unprecedented levels of information regarding drug use, and a stronger capacity to intervene and penalise players.

“This is the first year of the policy’s operation, and I ask that the new policy be given a chance to be in operation and measured for its impact before we demand new changes.

“The use of illicit drugs affects all sections of society, including AFL players, but testing results continue to indicate levels of use below the general public.

“The AFL has informed the Clubs regarding the hair testing over the holidays, but we will not make these public.

“The AFL remains committed to an Illicit Drugs policy that seeks to change behaviour, and penalise players whose behaviour doesn’t change,” Mr. Evans said.