Peter Gordon at the Western Bulldogs family day at Whitten Oval last month. Photo: Wayne TaylorWestern Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has highlighted concerns about the AFL’s illicit drugs policy, which had created a series of unfortunate issues for clubs and players, despite the AFL’s best intentions to deal with a society-wide problem.
Gordon said the AFL had sought ”to cure an incurable problem” and the Bulldogs president also suggested he did not feel he had the right to act ”as moral policeman” to experienced players in terms of what they did in their own homes during the off-season.
”The policy is imperfect and has created a whole series of issues, including civil liberties issues, but also this cops and robbers mentality of which players might be caught next by an increasingly voracious media,” said Gordon.
Gordon said he found it difficult to stand in front of older experienced players – as distinct from kids just out of high school – and act as ”moral policeman”. ”What is my right to play moral policeman about what they do, in the sanctuary of their home, in the off-season?
”There is no moral right. There is a contractual right with the drug policy as an instrument of the AFL player contract and that was the only basis I felt I could say to them with a straight face ‘you will do this because you are contracted to do so’.”
The Bulldogs president said the media were ”only doing their job” in a massively competitive field, adding ”and this is the sexiest of stories – who will be the next player caught?”
Gordon made his comments in a forum at the Wheeler Centre on Tuesday night and subsequently expanded on and clarified them to Fairfax Media, calling the three-strikes policy – based on a medical model – ”the least worst solution”.
”The issue of prudent management of the illicit drugs issue is a complete nightmare,” he said at the Wheeler Centre forum.
”The idea that you stand before young players who you know are in the age demographic, asking if they know we’ve got anything … knowing that the chances of their fessing up, in any circumstances, is illusory.
”All this is from a club management point of view. The potential for this risk to eventuate is uncertain, it’s uncontrollable and potentially catastrophic.”
He said all clubs were at risk of losing sponsors and financial contributors to illicit drug scandals and if the Dogs lost sponsors ”we’re in serious financial trouble”.
”I certainly think that the AFL, in framing this policy, sought to cure an incurable problem.
”I think that they, no doubt, did start with the best of intentions to articulate a policy.”
Gordon later told Fairfax Media that, upon reflection, he did not think there was a better solution to the illicit drugs issue, than the three-strikes policy that the AFL devised.
Gordon also criticised the conflating of ”illicit drugs” with performance-enhancing drugs by the Australian Crime Commission, which had ”blackened” the AFL and its clubs’ reputations.
”It’s blackened the name of the competition.”
It’s done enormous reputational damage,” said Gordon, who is one of Australia’s best known litigators. He said all of the clubs and competition ”have been subject to enormous reputational damage … I think it’s been most regrettable.”
”Who knows what prospective opportunities have been lost because of the risks involved.”
In clarifying his Wheeler Centre remarks, Gordon added on the illicit drugs and ACC issues: ”It’s a massive problem in Australian society. There is a significant proportion of the young people who use drugs. I think it was very unhelpful for it [illicit drugs] to be conflated in the report with what are performance-enhancing drugs.”
He said the AFL, in devising the illicit drugs policy, ”did the best that they could with the responsibilities that they’ve got … I think what they came up with its the least worst policy”.
”I think the conflating of the issue of PED with illicit drugs is unfortunate.” He said illicit drugs were criminal, but performance-enhancing ones, in some but not all cases, were not illegal.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.