NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis says he would be “absolutely staggered” if drug use wasn’t rampant in the Ovens and Murray.
The outspoken Brownlow medallist said it would be foolish to think illicit drug use wasn’t prevalent in country football.
“Whether it’s here, Albany or Castlemaine, I would be absolutely staggered if it wasn’t more rampant than in the AFL because they don’t get tested,” Akermanis said.
“But does it make them a better player? Not that I have seen.
“But you’d be foolish to think it’s not a higher proportion using in country areas.”
Akermanis said it was up to the police, not football clubs, to deal with the issue.
“I’m of the opinion that if your behaviour outside warrants you being an idiot and getting in trouble with police, well, let the police deal with that,” he said.
Akermanis, a long-time critic of the AFL’s three-strike system, said the league’s attempt at taking a
proactive stance against illicit drug-taking with a voluntary testing policy had been to its detriment.
“They just seem to think they have to be everything,” Akermanis said.
“The AFL has been asking for this.
“They’ve gone around beating their chest saying ‘we are morally so good’ but, in reality, they’re no different statistically — we know that — than the rest of the population.
“They’ve said for a long time that because we’re doing this it means we’re pretty clean and wholesome, but now they’re finding out they are far from that.
“They’ve got a responsibility to care for their players, absolutely, but eventually the penny has got to drop.
“The way they’ve approached it is totally juvenile.”
Akermanis said it was clear the AFL’s education programs weren’t working.
Akermanis said players needed to be more accountable for their actions.
“The players are all educated on it but yet they are still doing it,” he said.
“To solve the problem, you’ve got to make them accountable.
“In the end, they all know what’s right and wrong, do they not?
“Don’t sit there and tell us you don’t understand — they educate you on it.”
The 2001 Brownlow medallist was also critical of testing procedures.
“If Lance Armstrong can have the most tests of any athlete of all time and still pass all of them, bar a couple, then it’s clear it’s not working,” he said.
“He’s done the wrong thing but, if they can’t catch them, what’s the point?”
Meanwhile, the Hoppers’ mentor also confirmed the club had missed out on former AFL livewire Damian Cupido.
“He hasn’t told us he’s not playing here but we’ve gone and moved on,” he said.
“We’re still hopeful of finding another good forward.”