League chief Andrew Demetriou will speak at Wednesday's player welfare summit
THE AFL and its clubs have been warned they will need to conquer binge drinking among players before successfully tackling illicit drug use.
Club bosses, League officials, players association representatives, state and federal police and football medicos will gather at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday for a day-long player welfare summit.
Melbourne University Associate Professor John Fitzgerald believes its naive to think drugs are the only problem.
"It's extremely unlikely that you get a positive test on any of these drugs without alcohol being involved," Fitzgerald told AFL.com.au.
"If we don't deal with alcohol we are going to get more positive drug tests, it's as simple as that."
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He said binge drinking was clearly a problem.
"The way footballers use alcohol is that they drink intensely, they're under extreme discipline most of the time, but when they drink they drink a lot," Fitzgerald said.
"What happens when you drink a lot is they take more risks.
"Unless we deal with the alcohol we're going to increasingly get more drug use."
But the summit is also likely to hear a contrary argument, that players are turning to drugs rather than alcohol to protect their skinfolds.
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Representatives from Victoria police are expected to discuss a general rise in the availability of illicit drugs, particularly cocaine, over the past 12 months.
Other discussion points include:
- Eradicating the self reporting loophole
- When clubs should be informed about illicit drug use
- Whether players use drugs over alcohol to protect their skinfolds
- The post-season when players are particularly vulnerable
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It's unclear what outcomes, if any, the summit will achieve but key attendees, including AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, are expected to speak publicly afterwards.
Matt Thompson is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @MattThompsonAFL