Former Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell says players are not afraid to let loose in the off-season and take a plethora of illicit drugs because “they know the system”.

Speaking on SEN Radio on Tuesday, Maxwell said the AFL needs to take a tougher stance on illicit drugs.

“Now players are basically just having a laugh in the off-season, because they have their six or eight weeks and they know they can do what they want to do,” Maxwell said.

“The only result of that is when they get back and they’re hair tested they’ve got to sit down with the doctor and have a one-on-one conversation.

“The big thing for me is the whole attitude has to change across the board, it’s a problem in society everyone acknowledges that.

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“Either the AFL or AFLPA, who pride themselves on being leaders on these issues, they’ve got to take a stance and understand they may lose a few along the way but for the betterment of the game they have to go hard and test four times a year, and really start penalising.

“The illicit drugs policy is an absolute failure at the moment.”

Maxwell also said that he is aware of players getting out of drug tests.

“It was brought in for medical reasons, so that if players tested positive to illicit drugs then there could be a process to educate them and make sure it wasn’t something that continued.

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“I started to here rumblings myself, and did some digging talking to players from different clubs because up until recently I’ve been pretty naïve on how big the drug culture is in society.

“Different players have told me they’ve been able to get out of tests… players have been getting out of it because they know the system.

“A lot of senior players out there are frustrated and worried because they also now know that if a teammate gets tested and gets a second strike they’ll get four weeks – so that could cost them success.”