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Media statement: Harley Bennell

The Players’ Association is concerned whenever serious matters involving our members arise. 

It is, however important that we take a factual and measured approach to such matters.

Illicit drug usage amongst AFL players is not a new issue.  We know through testing that it exists at a level, albeit much lower than that of those in society of the same age group as AFL players.

The AFL’s Illicit Drug Policy was introduced to educate, deter but also support any players using illicit drugs. The facts are that this policy has worked over its 10 year history with a significant decrease in the percentage of players testing positive to illicit drug usage.

AFL players were the first athletes in world sport to adopt an Illicit Drugs Policy and have constantly agreed to evolve this policy where they have determined a need to do so.

That said, we will never rest on our laurels as we want to ensure the IDP remains the world’s-best practice policy. It was developed as a medical model and whilst we believe this is still the right approach, we are currently undergoing a review of the policy with the AFL and key industry stakeholders to ensure it remains best-practice.

With respect to the current issue, we have been working closely with the player involved to provide him with as much support as possible.  Our absolute priority is the health and wellbeing of our players and we have been working hard to ensure appropriate support and wellbeing networks are in place for all players who require them.

We have been in constant contact with the club and AFL, and are working closely with both parties to address the current issues.