THE AFL will not fast-track the likely introduction of a stricter illicit drugs policy despite the "hysteria" created by front-page newspaper photos that purportedly show Gold Coast's Harley Bennell in a hotel room with illicit drugs.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan fronted the media on Thursday morning to address the fallout from News Ltd's publication of the Bennell photos, which were reportedly taken in March 2013 in Tasmania.

McLachlan said that in launching a review of its illicit drugs policy in late March the AFL had acknowledged the three strikes system was not working, and the publication of the Bennell photos did not change anything.

"It's an illustration today, it's the same (problem), it's just quite graphic," McLachlan said.

Click here for McLachlan's official statement

"It's, I guess, unprecedented to have a photo like that, but as we said on March 30 this issue has pockets in our playing group - less than in society -who are facing challenges.

"Our policy was right 10 years ago, but I'm not sure it is going forward, and we've been reviewing it for many weeks and we'll have a new policy in place for the start of the off-season this year.

"Today I don't think changes anything. We are aware of the challenges, we called them out many months ago and we're working through the right process."

The publication of the Bennell photos caps off a tumultuous week for Gold Coast, which was earlier rocked by reports that former Sun Karmichael Hunt had told Queensland police Suns players used illicit drugs in his presence last year.

McLachlan said the AFL's major concern now was the welfare of Bennell, but he also acknowledged that Gold Coast was facing "big challenges" to develop a strong culture, and that Hunt's legacy at the club had been "tarnished".

The AFL boss said the Bennell photos had perpetuated "a level of hysteria" about the extent of the competition's illicit drug problem and had added to "the vulnerability of a young man we know has had significant challenges".

"He's had an incredibly tough background. The club has been working closely with Harley for a couple of years," McLachlan said.

"His challenges are known to the club and I think are broadly known.

"What he also is is a tough, resilient kid as I understand, and the club are ensuring that he has the right people around him to deal with today and to deal with his challenges on-going."

McLachlan said Bennell was unlikely to play in the Suns' clash with North Melbourne this Saturday and backed Gold Coast to come up with an appropriate sanction.

He also backed the expansion club to overcome its cultural problems.

Harley Bennell in new Suns drug storm

"They are facing big challenges, I know it and they know it. They are challenges that many of our most successful and oldest clubs have faced," McLachlan said.

"This club will get through the challenges and they will be stronger for it. I have confidence in the club, in their playing list and where they are in the market.

"The scale of [their challenges are] being worked through, they are not new challenges.

"This club has known it has some challenges for some time and they will continue to work through them."

McLachlan said that while player welfare would continue to be a priority in a new illicit drugs policy, players had to be more accountable for their actions than they had been under the existing system.

"It probably needs to be that every strike has an action or accountability point," he said.