THE AFL will this week investigate Bailey Smith over his use of an illicit substance late last year.

After photos and a video of Smith with the substance emerged early on Saturday, Smith issued a public apology, saying the incident coincided with a deterioration of his mental health after last year's Toyota AFL Grand Final loss to Melbourne.

The photos and video of Smith in the presence of drugs is a major setback to a player whose public profile in the past 12 months has placed him alongside even Dustin Martin and Lance Franklin.

>>SCROLL DOWN TO READ FULL STATEMENTS FROM BAILEY SMITH AND CEO AMEET BAINS

Smith was suspended by the AFL for two matches for headbutting Geelong's Zach Tuohy in round 12.

He is likely to face further and significant AFL sanction for the drug use. The AFL runs an illicit drugs policy (IDP) separate to its performance enhancement drugs policy, and while "strikes" under that policy are never made public, penalties have usually been attached to behaviour which has been made public.

Bailey Smith handballs during the Western Bulldogs' clash against the Gold Coast Suns in round 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

A review announced in 2019 of the AFL's IDP was halted when COVID hit the competition in 2020.

"In confronting this, the temptation is to speak in vague generalities and avoid the issue," Smith said in a statement on Saturday. "However, I am determined to learn the lessons of my past and be a better person in the future.

"After much reflection, I am now in a position to confess to indulging in behaviours in late 2021 of which I am deeply ashamed. I do not have an excuse for those behaviours, however the state of my mental health over that period post Grand Final dramatically deteriorated, and I spiralled out of control leading to poor decision making and actions at the time. All of this resulting in the leave I took from football at the commencement of pre-season training late last year.

"The depth of my emotions over that period, coupled with some of my behaviours, have reminded me that, as a person, I am still very much a work-in-progress.

"I know I have obligations beyond myself, not just contractually – but in terms of the example I set through the decisions I make, and I will be better. I have made mistakes. I am very aware of that, and I fully own it. I unreservedly apologise to my family, my teammates, my club and its sponsors, the AFL, my supporters and my sponsors.

"I have made mistakes, but I resolve to learn from each and to do all I can to avoid letting myself down, and those around me."

11:31 Mins
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Bailey Smith's battle with 'mental demons'

Western Bulldogs young gun Bailey Smith speaks candidly to Damian Barrett about his mental health issues

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The AFL said of the Smith situation: "The AFL on Saturday evening acknowledges Smith's statement this afternoon. AFL players are well-educated when it comes to the harms associated with the use of illicit substances, and have a responsibility to themselves, their clubs and their professional careers to uphold community expectations.

"The AFL will interview Smith in the coming days in relation to the emergence of the content on social media and the context surrounding it.  An outcome of that investigation will be communicated in due course."

>>READ THE FULL AFL STATEMENT HERE

Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains said: "We are extremely disappointed to have observed social media content showing Bailey Smith with an illicit substance.

"This content was captured after the 2021 AFL season, while the players were on personal leave. 

"We absolutely do not condone our players being involved with illicit substances and firmly believe players are well-educated on what constitutes appropriate behaviour.

Zach Tuohy holds his head after being headbutted by Bailey Smith during Geelong's clash against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos

"As a football club with significant influence, we have a responsibility to uphold the highest of standards, as we represent the community, our members and fans, our corporate partners and our other stakeholders.

"Bailey is a young man who has faced many challenges and pressures off the field in recent times which he has spoken of extensively.  He endured a particularly difficult time towards the end of last year that ultimately led to time away from football.  

"While this clearly does not excuse his behaviour, it is our responsibility as a club to ensure we have supported, and we continue to support, Bailey's health and wellbeing.

"We are encouraged that this year Bailey has successfully put steps in place to ensure he can manage his mental health and be strong in his decision-making, while being able to perform to the best of his ability on the field. This has been reflected in his strong on-field performances across the 2022 AFL season.

"The club has supported Bailey through this process, and we will continue to work closely with him and provide him the support he needs, as he continues his journey as a Bulldogs player.

"The club and the AFL Integrity Unit continue to investigate the emergence of the content on social media and the context surrounding it.  An outcome of that investigation will be communicated in due course."

Bailey Smith celebrates a goal during the Bulldogs' 2021 preliminary final win over Port Adelaide. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFLPA said it would support Smith.

"Bailey is a young man who has made a mistake, but importantly has owned that mistake and, even more importantly, has put steps in place to learn from it and grow as a person as a result of it," said AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh.

"The AFL environment is high pressure and high profile, and Bailey has previously shared his battles with mental health.

"When issues such as this arise, there are typically two alternative approaches people think should be taken.

"Condemn, sanction and shame the player involved, or support, educate and try to use the issue as an opportunity for growth.

"The AFLPA will support Bailey through this time, and we are confident the Western Bulldogs will do likewise."

STATEMENT FROM WESTERN BULLDOGS CEO AMEET BAINS

We are extremely disappointed to have observed social media content showing Bailey Smith with an illicit substance.

This content was captured after the 2021 AFL season, while the players were on personal leave.

We absolutely do not condone our players being involved with illicit substances and firmly believe players are well-educated on what constitutes appropriate behaviour.

As a football club with significant influence, we have a responsibility to uphold the highest of standards, as we represent the community, our members and fans, our corporate partners and our other stakeholders.

Bailey is a young man who has faced many challenges and pressures off the field in recent times which he has spoken of extensively.  He endured a particularly difficult time towards the end of last year that ultimately led to time away from football. 

While this clearly does not excuse his behaviour, it is our responsibility as a Club to ensure we have supported, and we continue to support, Bailey’s health and wellbeing.

We are encouraged that this year Bailey has successfully put steps in place to ensure he can manage his mental health and be strong in his decision-making, while being able to perform to the best of his ability on the field. This has been reflected in his strong on-field performances across the 2022 AFL season.

The Club has supported Bailey through this process, and we will continue to work closely with him and provide him the support he needs, as he continues his journey as a Bulldogs player.

The Club and the AFL Integrity Unit continue to investigate the emergence of the content on social media and the context surrounding it.  An outcome of that investigation will be communicated in due course.

STATEMENT FROM BAILEY SMITH

I have recently been made aware of the presence of social media content that shows me with an illicit substance.

In confronting this, the temptation is to speak in vague generalities and avoid the issue.  However, I am determined to learn the lessons of my past and be a better person in the future.

After much reflection, I am now in a position to confess to indulging in behaviours in late 2021 of which I am deeply ashamed.  I do not have an excuse for those behaviours, however the state of my mental health over that period post Grand Final dramatically deteriorated, and I spiralled out of control leading to poor decision making and actions at the time. All of this resulting in the leave I took from football at the commencement of pre-season training late last year.

The depth of my emotions over that period, coupled with some of my behaviours, have reminded me that, as a person, I am still very much a work-in-progress.

I know I have obligations beyond myself, not just contractually – but in terms of the example I set through the decisions I make, and I will be better.

I have made mistakes.  I am very aware of that, and I fully own it.

I unreservedly apologise to my family, my teammates, my club and its sponsors, the AFL, my supporters and my sponsors.

I have made mistakes, but I resolve to learn from each and to do all I can to avoid letting myself down, and those around me.