The chief executive called for critics of the policy to consider the wider implications of illicit drug use among players, including the welfare of the individual players, the clubs and the code itself.
“This policy will protect the reputation of the AFL,” he stated.
“We operate in a very competitive sporting marketplace in a country with four major football codes. The threat from Rugby League is real. Even in our heartland of Victoria the Melbourne Storm Rugby League franchise enjoys success and attracts a regular band of loyal followers.
A player from the NRL won the first Frownlow Medal and we want to take it from them.”
McLachlan explained that winning the highly sought after Frownlow Medal would strengthen the code’s presence in Rugby dominated NSW and QLD. He then cited the specific example of the eleven Collingwood players who were recently nominated for the award after testing positive for illicit drugs during the off season, but whose efforts were virtually nullified by the eight young Queensland League players who were previously nominated for breaking curfew at an emerging State of Origin camp.
“Put simply, The Frownlow Medal is very difficult to win and a zero tolerance policy would strip us of players who are performing the most memorable actions off the field.”
First published April 2016.