AS concerns about illicit drug use by AFL players mount, Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert says some players are guilty of "volcanic behaviour" during the off-season and wants a forum of all clubs to discuss the problem.
Pert said drugs was the biggest issue in the AFL and made this clear during his presentation to fellow club chief executives on the Gold Coast last week.
"It's the biggest issue as far as I am concerned because I have watched two players retire from their football careers in Ben Cousins and Gavin Crosisca," he said on Wednesday.
"They have come in as young men into a football environment not being drug users and they have left addicted to illegal drugs.
"I have watched Lance Armstrong destroy a sport because of his behaviour. I read the papers every day about how big an issue this is in the lives of young men and we happen to have the highest risk demographic in this area, which is 18 to 30 year old men."
Rumours of players taking drugs regularly abound within AFL circles but only six players failed illicit drugs tests in 2011.
None of the six players who failed illicit drugs tests last year tested positive to cannabis, a result the AFL described as remarkable.
However, the league was forced to defend a reduction in the number of tests carried out as all six players who tested positive were first strikes in the three-strikes-and-out policy under the outside-of-competition code. This testing is in addition to the standard World Anti-Doping Code program the league has adopted.
AFL medical director Peter Harcourt said in June in most cases players had taken drugs as a result of poor decision-making during a night out when alcohol and illicit drugs had been freely available.
Pert said the off-season was potentially a dangerous time for cashed-up players who have even more time on their hands and are outside of club control.
"There is volcanic behaviour which is what you are talking about," he said.
"We have had experts and consultants, talk to us, and psychologists, and there is definitely a concern that has been raised to all of the club CEOs and the AFL are very aware of this.
"By the very nature of the disciplines we put in place for the players mean, at times, especially during the off-season, and when we have breaks, are deemed to be the highest risk times."
Pert clearly wants the current system tinkered with, although he maintains he fully supports this model.
"In a lot of ways it's an un-coordinated approach and in conversations I have had with other CEOs, there are little things we are doing differently so I brought it up at the conference," he said.
"By saying this is the biggest issue in the AFL, naturally that puts Collingwood into the mix and we want to be a big part of this. But I stress the AFL's program that deals with holding the players accountable and then the counselling and education that comes out of that is a program that is run by the AFL and I 100 per cent support it.
"But I think it's an appropriate time for the CEOs to have a discussion and go are there any other elements that fit around that? It's not about changing the system but are there some elements that may benefit the environment and cultures we create at our club."
Under the current policy, players are named publicly only if they test positive three times in an out-of-competition scenario. Those who test positive for the first or second times are afforded counselling, some anonymity and advice by their club doctors and external drug experts. Any players who test positive three times to illicit drugs in out-of-competition testing can be suspended for up to 18 matches.
In 2010, Hawthorn's Travis Tuck became the first player to be suspended under the policy. He was banned for 12 matches and fined $5000.