Eddie McGuire says up to a QUARTER of all AFL players have seen a doctor after taking illegal drugs
Eddie McGuire says up to a QUARTER of all AFL players have seen a doctor after taking illegal drugs – as he blasts league’s policy for leaving footballers open to blackmail
- McGuire said players could be manipulated into match fixing under policy
- Called for AFL to make ‘actual, hard and fast rules’ on players who take drugs
- Said rules were being ‘absolutely laughed at’ by players from the 2010s
Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has blasted the AFL’s drugs policy for leaving players open to blackmail in the wake of Bailey Smith’s suspension – and made the startling claim that as many as 25 per cent of the league’s footballers have used illegal substances.
Bulldogs superstar Smith was suspended for two matches on Thursday after photos and video of him taking an illicit drug emerged.
One image showed the 21-year-old midfielder holding a small bag full of white powder, while the video showed him snorting a substance in a nightclub.
Both were taken late last year, after the Bulldogs lost the grand final to Melbourne – with the defeat seeing him ‘spiral out of control’ and take leave from football.
Bailey Smith was hit with a two-week suspension after a photo (pictured) and video footage of him with illicit drugs emerged. McGuire said up to 25 per cent of all AFL players could be put in the same position, with disastrous consequences for the game’s integrity
The former Pies president asked how vulnerable to blackmail a player would be if he was confronted with a similar incriminating photo on the eve of playing a grand final
The AFL found Smith guilty of ‘conduct unbecoming’ and also handed him a ‘notifiable adverse finding’, or strike, under the league’s illicit drug policy.
The policy hits players with a suspended $5,000 fine for a first positive test, rising to a four-match ban for a second positive, with a third knocking the player out of the game for a year.
McGuire slammed the AFL’s policy on Footy Classified and claimed it has loopholes that leave footballers open to being pressed into match-fixing.
‘He [Smith] gets two weeks because someone took a photo of him, as opposed to, let’s say, up to a quarter of the AFL population who at some stage have gone to the doctors and said, “Oh, I’ve had a bad night” … could be up as high as that, on some of the figures I’ve heard,’ he said.
McGuire then asked what would happen if a player who is about to play in a grand final was hit with a photo showing him taking drugs ‘a year ago’.
‘This is the big issue about illicit drugs, the opportunity for nefarious people to blackmail players,’ he explained.
Smith – seen in a still from the video showing him snorting a substance in a nightclub – didn’t test positive for drugs and was banned for conduct unbecoming
The superstar Bulldog won’t play until the club’s game against St Kilda on July 15
‘It’s always been the big issue, going right back to the 2010s when Collingwood came out and talked about [the] volcanic situation. The drug rules were being absolutely laughed at by the players.
‘The big issue – and the Australian Crime Commission were looking at this – was how are players going to get blackmailed into match-fixing because of their situation with illicit drugs.’
McGuire also raised the case of Collingwood’s Jaidyn Stephenson, who was rubbed out of the game for 10 matches in 2019 for placing bets on AFL games he played in – a penalty over an integrity issue that the former Pies boss agreed with.
He then branded Smith’s case another integrity issue that only saw him suspended for two matches and insisted the AFL need some ‘actual, hard and fast rules on this’ – and agreed with fellow panelist, Bombers legend Matthew Lloyd, that there is a perception the league is protecting itself with the penalties.
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