Akermenace: Demetriou dismisses claims

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has dismissed Jason Akermanis’ criticism of the league’s illicit drug policy.

Demetriou questioned the former AFL star’s expertise, saying something would be wrong if he wasn’t copping flak from the new North Albury coach.

“If we weren’t getting criticised by Jason, it wouldn’t be normal,” Demetriou said.

“Look, I don’t think Jason’s the expert on all things.

“We had half a dozen experts the other day from the Australian Drug Foundation, the Victoria police, the federal police, who all congratulated our policy, who lauded our policy.

“I can’t wait for Jason’s next instalment.”

Akermanis said this week the AFL had bitten off more than it could chew by voluntarily introducing an illicit drug-testing policy that he believed wasn’t working.

But Demetriou, in Wangaratta yesterday to inspect Norm Minns Oval ahead of the city’s NAB Cup match on March 2, defended the league’s proactive stance against drug-taking.

“We don’t shy away from those issues,” Demetriou said.

“We work closely with our clubs and the players and we do it transparently.

“Drugs are a massive concern for the community.

“We’re doing our best to implement a system that seems to have been effective, certainly for a lot of players, and we’ll continue to do that.

“If we can improve the system we will but we can only do so much at our level.”

Akermanis also said he’d be staggered if drug use among footballers wasn’t at a higher level in the country.

Demetriou said Australia’s dominant sporting code “absolutely” had a responsibility to help local sporting clubs tackle the issue.

“It’s very important that what we do at the elite level we filter down,” he said.

“We do it through all sorts of programs.

“We’ve done it with racial vilification and we should do it with drugs, too, which we are.

“I’ve seen a significant shift in attitudes but you need to remain vigilant.

“You can’t take your foot off the pedal.”

Demetriou said the AFL had learned plenty from Wednesday’s drug summit and would close the self-reporting loophole.

“The policy is right but is not without its flaws,” he said.

“It can be improved.

“The clubs want to get involved more and on the balance of things I think that’s a really positive thing.

“I think we can arm them with the information that they’re looking for.

“There are a couple of other things that in time will be revealed.”

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