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Pert opens up on volcanic behaviour

By AAP .
28 November 2012 02:26PM EST

COLLINGWOOD boss Gary Pert says "volcanic behaviour" by players in the off-season was one reason he put illicit drugs back at the top of the AFL agenda.

Pert used the annual club chief executive's conference, held on the Gold Coast on the eve of last week's national draft, to call for a more coordinated strategy among clubs on the illicit drugs issue.

He spoke with the blessing of the Collingwood board.

Pert wants the clubs to hold a forum in January to further discuss the problem.

He said on Wednesday there was no doubt that illicit drugs became more of an issue for some players when they were outside the rigid day-to-day structure at their clubs.

"There's volcanic behaviour ... we've had experts and consultants talk to us about that," Pert said.

"There's definitely a concern that's been raised to all of the club CEOs and the AFL are very aware of this.

"By the nature of the disciplines we put in place for the players ... at times, especially during the off-season or when we have breaks, (they) are deemed to the highest-risk times.

"Having that sort of knowledge and being aware of it helps the clubs and helps the AFL deal with that."

Pert's opinion is that illicit drugs are the biggest issue facing the AFL.

He points to former players Ben Cousins and Gavin Crosisca, who admitted to addictions, and the enormous damage that Lance Armstrong's downfall has done to cycling.

While Armstrong's scandal relates to performance-enhancing doping, rather than social drugs, Pert said that scandal was a stark reminder to the AFL about the potential costs to the game's image.

Pert also stressed he fully supported the AFL's controversial illicit drugs policy, which was developed in cooperation with the players.

The AFL tests for illicit drugs outside the standard World Anti-Doping Code program that the league follows.

A key feature of the illicit drugs code, which the players follow voluntarily, is the "three strikes" provision.

Under the code, a player receives counselling and has some anonymity if he returns two positive tests for illicit drugs.

While Pert backs the league's policy, he said clubs needed to talk more to each other about the illicit drugs problem.

Pert said it was hard to see a day where the problem would disappear.

"The information coming from the AFL is saying that proportionate to the community, the program is working fantastically well," he said.

"But everyone would say unless we have a zero result coming through ... we still have a problem.

"Rest assured, if we have a zero for one year, it doesn't mean we're not going to have a problem the next year.

"This is an ongoing issue."

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