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Beveridge calls for drugs policy to be scrapped as Bailey Smith speaks, No.1 pick urged to ‘pull his head in’


Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has called for the AFL’s illicit drugs policy to be scrapped, in the wake of vision emerging of star Bailey Smith with an illicit substance last year.

The AFL’s controversial ‘three strikes’ policy sees players fined $5000 and remain anonymous for a first offence, receive a four-match suspension and have their details released publicly for a second, and then face a 12-match ban for a third.

However, Beveridge believes the policy isn’t working.

“I’m a big believer that it should disappear, and there’s not many sporting codes in the world that have an illicit drug policy – it’s obviously all based around performance enhancing,” he said on Monday.

“None of us really feel it works.

“Ultimately the clubs, the people, the constituents at the football clubs are here to help and support our players.

“And essentially any player with a clinically diagnosed mental health challenge will never be exposed to the policy anyway.”

An oft-criticised loophole in the policy allows players to avoid a strike if they have a diagnosed mental health condition and undergo counselling. According to Beveridge, it’s another problem with the AFL guidelines as they stand.

“Essentially any player with a clinically diagnosed mental health challenge will never be exposed to the policy anyway,” Beveridge said.

“Regardless of when you’re tested or how often you’re tested, you’re always going to get a pass.”

Smith is facing a two-match suspension from the league for ‘conduct unbecoming’, on top of his current two-match ban for a headbutt on Geelong’s Zach Tuohy last week.

Beveridge’s comments come as Smith fronted the media for the first time since images of him with a bag of white powder surfaced on social media on Saturday morning.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, Smith opened up on his struggles with mental health following the Bulldogs’ grand final loss to Melbourne last year, admitting he went ‘days without eating’ at his lowest point.

there have certainly been really dark days,” he said.

“Even now, I haven’t brushed my teeth in two days just because of this stuff… it does hit me, and I do get waves of chronic anxiety and it’s difficult.

“I reckon I went days without eating, even brushing my teeth, leaving my bedroom, I couldn’t talk to people [after the Grand Final].

“I didn’t go on my phone or anything, but that’s just what it was.

“I didn’t do any training, anything like that – I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to training.

“I’m sure lots of people have experienced that, and it’s not an excuse to why I acted the way that I did, but it certainly does provide context as to why I made such a stupid decision like I did.”

Smith admitted to falling into ‘the party life’ through last year as his fame rose – he is the most-followed AFL player on Instagram – and says he hopes now to be a role model for others facing similar problems.

“It is a reality of what lots of people are like – the party life which I’ve tried to steer clear from a lot this year, and got sucked into last year,” Smith said.

“This is good for people to see the path they don’t want to go down.

“Lots of people growing up can fall into the wrong crowds and fall into doing stupid stuff.

“I want to inspire people if they’ve made the wrong decisions or are struggling… there’s always rock bottom, but you can always pick yourself back up from there.

“I own it, I don’t shy away from it … but it’s hard to own up to that when it’s such an embarrassing thing.”

Smith is set to be interviewed by the AFL Integrity Unit later this week.

Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss.

Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

‘Pull your head in’: Roos great’s blunt message for No.1 pick

Former North Melbourne premiership player David King has a simple message for the club’s prized number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis”

“He needs to pull his head in – it’s as simple as that.”

The 18-year old has been the target of criticism from around the footy world, for a series of incidents in the Roos’ loss to GWS on Sunday.

Horne-Francis repeatedly expressed frustration in his teammates, including a testy exchange at half time with veteran Todd Goldstein.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s First Crack, King said Horne-Francis’ attitude is ‘a massive issue in his game’.

“He’s abusing his teammates on-field. There’s problems with his own game… he’s not really presenting his best footy, yet he’s happy to spray guys that are 300-gamers,” King said.

“At 18 years of age going into an AFL system, you do not know the lot. You’re not the finished product, so listen to players that are trying to help you.

“It’s a massive issue in his game and it’s a real problem for this kid – from day one, that’s been his mannerisms.

“Now I know you can say he’s frustrated with them not winning, but this is abusing your teammates.

“I think it’s counterproductive to what the group are trying to achieve. I wonder what they’re doing down there to rein that in, because this has been a problem for two months now.”

Horne-Francis is also facing suspension for a late hit on Josh Kelly, that appeared to catch the Giants star on the chin.

However, coach David Noble defended the first-year midfielder after the match.

“He’s a young guy, a young man learning the caper,” Noble said.

“He’s got high standards, high expectations, so there’s some frustration out there, there’s no doubt.

“But I don’t think it’s limited to him.”





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