The Daily Telegraph today reported the PFA’s position on the introduction of out of competition testing for illicit drugs in Australian football: we will only support an approach built upon education, counselling and rehabilitation.

PFA Executive Chairman Brendan Schwab: the PFA is happy to lead a cooperative and responsible approach to out of competition illicit drug testing in Australian football.

Today’s article from the Daily  Telegraph appears below:
Name and shame not the answer
By David Davutovic
September 04, 2007 12:00am

AUSTRALIAN players’ association chief Brendan Schwab says football codes will be reluctant to comply with the Federal Government’s favoured out-of-competition testing procedure if a “zero tolerance” policy is adopted.

Football Federation Australia is drafting an out-of-competition testing policy for illicit drugs while, separately, the World Anti-Doping Authority is reviewing its policy of mandatory penalties.

Schwab has labelled cries for a “name and shame” approach “simplistic”, instead calling for a multi-level regime with education and rehabilitation being the cornerstone.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to have any regime which violates the basic human rights of the players and I am disappointed that the Federal Government has seen fit to play political football with elite athletes,” Schwab told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s all well and good to say elite athletes are role models, we accept that and that’s why we’re happy to sign up to such onerous codes of conduct.

“But elite athletes also pursue a short term and a precarious career and no-one deserves to have their career placed in jeopardy because they may make an error of judgement at a young stage in life.

“We certainly don’t want to be party to a regime that gets the balance wrong. The other important point is that there are very serious questions of privacy in relation to this, very serious questions of possible criminality and sports need to ask themselves whether they are competent to handle these matters.

“Especially at the behest of the Federal Government wishing to get involved in this area. It’ll be very important that the Government is prepared to legislate to protect sport and protect the reputation of athletes so that we don’t have a repeat of what’s occurring in the AFL at the moment.”

Although it has thus far been immune to the controversy, football has been forced to review its drugs policies in the wake of a controversial year for the AFL and now NRL.

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley has issued a warning to A-League players saying it would be naive to think footballers would be immune to what is a broader societal issue.

“First and foremost illicit drugs are illegal, that’s a clear-cut message. Secondly they’re extremely damaging to your health and thirdly they’re not going to help you perform,” Buckley said.

“They’re the critical messages and we have some programs in place to educate the players that we do in conjunction with the PFA to get that message through.”