AFL drugs code is failing players, says Goddard


Former Saints teammate Goddard, whose achievements on and off the field were recognised on Tuesday night when he won the AFLPA’s Madden Medal, believes illicit drug use has escalated in the AFL since he started his career.

“I think publicly I haven’t spoken about it but internally and to the AFL, I’ve made my view pretty clear – that we can be harsher and more strict on it,” said Goddard, who retired last December after 334 games with St Kilda and Essendon.

“I understand their reasonings around helping guys with problems, in particular [those] that lead into mental health.

“But I think if you’ve got a stronger stance from the start, it’ll actually prevent some of the guys in creating problems with [illicit] drug use and prescription drugs and all that sort of thing.


“I don’t think whacking them straight up but to be an industry leading in that area, I think the AFL and clubs in general – and the players – can agree to make it a little more strict because I think there’s too much grey area for guys and too many slipping through the net.”

Goddard, whose brother was jailed in 2007 for heroin trafficking, noted he had first-hand experience of how drugs could affect families.

Under the AFL’s policy, players who receive a second strike for illicit drug use are publicly named and serve a four-match suspension.

No player has been suspended since the policy – which has been voluntarily agreed to by the players and is aimed more at harm minimisation than punishment – changed from three strikes to two just over three years ago.

Marsh on Tuesday night suggested a more hard-line policy was unlikely to win support.

“This is a voluntary policy – the players could walk away from this at any point,” he said.

“We don’t want to because it’s helped out a lot of players. That’s what we hope will continue to happen.”


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