The Australian Football League said players recorded 26 positive tests for illicit drugs in 2012, a more than fourfold increase from the previous year.
The failed tests were out of competition, with all but one related to stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, the Melbourne-based AFL said in a statement today. The positives were detected in 1,979 tests in 2012, compared with six from 1,489 tests the previous year.
The names of players who tested positive weren’t released by the AFL, which has an Illicit Drugs Policy that’s separate from regular anti-doping checks carried out during the season. Players are given counseling by the league after failed tests and face sanctions after a third positive test.
“The rise in detections in 2012 reflects both an increase in the number and effectiveness of target tests conducted as well as the well-documented jump in illicit drug availability and use in the broader community,” AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou said in a statement. “The AFL playing group largely falls within the high risk 18-30 male age group and individual players are not immune to peer group pressure and poor decision-making.”
The AFL’s findings follow an Australian Crime Commission investigation that identified widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illegal drugs across multiple sports. Australia’s anti-doping agency said Feb. 14 it needed to interview about 150 people in relation to the probe.