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Alcohol a key issue: AFL

Adam McNicol  January 30, 2013 7:20 PM

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Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert

I think we've probably dropped the ball as a code, whilst concentrating on illicit drugs

AFL CHIEF executive Andrew Demetriou says the competition needs to readdress the issue of alcohol consumption among its players, rather than just focus on a rise in illicit drug use.

The issue of binge drinking was a key discussion point at the player welfare summit attended by all 18 club chief executives at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

"I think we've probably dropped the ball as a code, whilst concentrating on illicit drugs, whilst concentrating on respect and responsibility and all these things we try to do with our policies," Demetriou said.

"This [binge drinking] is an area that we need to work harder on.

"We need to engage with our major partner in this area, CUB, who I know are committed to working with us on responsible alcohol messaging, and we'll do that in collaboration with the clubs and the players' association."

Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert, whose comments about rising drug use among players led to the organising of the player welfare summit, agrees that alcohol consumption remains a key concern.

"We saw the presentation today that in 90 per cent of cases where players are using drugs, alcohol is the lead-in to that," Pert said.

"The experts went as far as to say, 'you deal with your alcohol policies and your behaviour around that, you'll eliminate the likelihood of the majority of these behaviours that end up with illicit drugs.'

"So not only for the football clubs, but for the broader community, we need to understand that information and data.
"Alcohol leads to that behaviour … so that needs to be reviewed."

Players binge drinking during their off-season has long been a problem for AFL clubs.

The player welfare working party, formed during Wednesday's summit, will examine that issue among many others.

"We heard arguments from experts that said if you refrain from alcohol that by the end of the season, when you start drinking alcohol, that could be a contributing factor to this binge drinking," Demetriou said.

"And conversely, we also heard from one of the experts about drinking excessive alcohol during the season – it takes three or four days to get it out of your system, for your body to recover."