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Keep Illicit Drugs Policy and collective bargaining agreement separate, says AFLPA

AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh - ${keywords}
AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh

THE AFL Players' Association has no desire to revisit the recently revised Illicit Drugs Policy during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement this year.

CEO Paul Marsh said on Wednesday that while the AFLPA remained committed to working collaboratively with industry stakeholders to address illicit drug use, it was satisfied with the new stricter policy agreed to in October last year.

He said the IDP and the CBA discussions should not be intertwined.    

"The IDP is an agreement reached outside of the CBA. We agreed to a joint review of the IDP with the AFL, which was signed off last year and we don't see a need for this to be included in the CBA," Marsh said.

Collingwood CEO Gary Pert put the issue back on the agenda when he responded to a question at a media briefing on Wednesday morning. 

He later said player behaviour did not appear to have changed despite the new policy and the suspension last year of Magpies Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas for testing positive to performance enhancing drugs, potentially ingested while taking illicit drugs.

He also said debate should continue on whether the medical model adopted remained effective.

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans told 3AW the stricter policy would have an effect but time was needed for change to take place.

"[The] next 12 or 18 months will give us a really good insight as to whether we're making ground," Evans said.

He said clubs had more information under the new policy about drug use, with more players being subject to hair testing this year than previously, and more direction on how to respond if they need to tackle problems with players.

Evans said that even with a stricter policy, which now sees a player suspended if they record two strikes, the real change would take place if players took control of the issue.

"When clubs and players, particularly leadership groups, decide there's something they want to address, that's where you get the best traction," Evans said.

Clubs have been given a profile of drug use among their clubs but anonymity has been maintained.

Evans said the policy needed time to cause a change.

"I am sure that the policy will change behaviour," Evans said.