AFL Players Boss Shuts Down Speculation About Mental Health And Drugs

Feb 14, 2020

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AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh says suggestions players claim mental health issues to get around the league’s illicit drugs policy are “completely false” -- but admits it could have happened in some cases.

FIVEaa’s Stephen Rowe said the innuendo regarding players who took leave for mental health left “a nasty taste in my mouth”.

“The illicit drug policy I think still gets linked to players; mental health,” he said. “Player A is out -- immediately a lot of the AFL industry assume, oh, he’s on his first strike, he wants to use the loophole for the second.

“I just don’t like that. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. They could all very well be innocent. This new illicit drug policy will it cater for that?”

Paul Marsh told Rowey & Bicks:

“I think that’s really dangerous that sort of narrative around players who have got mental health issues. I’m not going to sit here and say that hasn’t happened in some cases, but to say that’s what is happening with all players is completely false.

“The people that follow this industry and the people that work in it need to respect how significant an issue mental health is.

“Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here. The illicit drugs policy is helping a lot of players and that’s what it’s designed to do. It’s a medical model. That’s not to say we can’t improve it and that’s what this year’s discussions will be.”

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