THE push for change to the illicit drugs policy has gained significant momentum, with Geelong chief executive Brian Cook declaring it could be time for club officials to be told earlier of a positive test by a player.
As it stands, only the club doctor is informed of a positive test on the first and second strikes, with management informed only if there has been a third strike.
Cook, one of the league's most respected figures, has joined the debate sparked by Magpies counterpart and drugs agitator Gary Pert, suggesting it was time for change.
''I think it's best to leave the rehabilitation [and] education of positively tested players in the hands of the medical and specialist support individuals and teams,'' he said. ''This is certainly the case in the early stages of player rehabilitation and education.
''However, I think there is a fair argument for clubs to be aware after a second positive illicit drug-taking result. Currently, the head club doctor becomes aware and is part of the solution.
''Whether other club officials should know is debatable but there is argument and reason that this should occur.
''Again, I add that the current model is a good one but it does not necessarily align itself with blatant and planned users.''
The illicit drugs issue will be discussed at a league forum on January 30 involving club chief executives, AFL medical directors and the players' association.
A worrying development, recently mentioned by outgoing AFL operations manager Adrian Anderson, is that a small group of players, predominantly from one club, have been self-reporting the use of drugs to AFL medical directors Dr Peter Harcourt and Dr Harry Unglik in a bid to exploit the rules.
Players who do this do not register a positive test and are not given a strike.
This issue is of concern to Cook - and all clubs.
''I believe the best model is one which tries to rehabilitate, educate, support players who have tested positive,'' Cook said.
''This welfare model is a positive one only if players understand and agree that illicit drug-taking is illegal and not a part of the lifestyle of high-performance athlete environments.
''This welfare model may not be effective, indeed relevant for those players who plan in advance, are consciously blatant and belligerent about illicit drug use.
''The issue is mostly therefore not about those who genuinely need and are willing to be helped but how do we identify, treat and sanction those who are breaking the rules in a deliberate and planned manner. [It's] interesting stuff with no clear strategies to implement at this stage.''
The illicit drugs debate is contentious and has already sparked heated debate between Pert and AFL Players Association chief executive Matt Finnis.
Pert has warned of ''volcanic behaviour'' by players during their post-season break. A push has also emerged among some club officials for more testing during the off-season.
Players have said they are open to change, although Finnis wrote in a column: ''It is ridiculous and self-serving to blame the testing regimen for the fact that a small minority of players have used illicit drugs.''
Pert, in an email to other chief executives and league boss Andrew Demetriou, fired back at Finnis.
''You stated in your article illicit drugs are used by a small minority of AFL players,'' he wrote.
''Based on this claim have you ever done a detailed, independent study on exactly how many players in the AFL use illegal drugs at any stage during the year? No.
''Has anyone completed a detailed study on behalf of the clubs on the ongoing impact of the speculation around player behaviour in regards to illicit drug use? No.
''Are AFL players exploiting the loopholes in the current [illicit drugs policy] created by the AFL and the AFLPA? I'm interested in your thoughts.''
Travis Tuck, the former Hawthorn midfielder, is the only footballer to record three strikes under the policy.