COLLINGWOOD president Eddie McGuire says he is concerned that changing the rules around interchange rotations could lead to AFL players using performance-enhancing drugs.
The AFL currently caps interchanges within a game to 90, a figure introduced in 2016, after introducing a cap of 120 in 2014.
But McGuire is worried that if an even stricter cap is put in place, it could see some AFL players consider taking drugs like the peptide EPO (erythropoietin, a hormone that is believed to increase oxygen absorption, reduce fatigue and improve endurance).
EPO is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The drug became well known when Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for his use of both EPO and blood doping.
“I think the AFL have got to be careful,” McGuire said on Triple M.
“When the AFL brought in the limitations on the interchange, the first thing I said at the presidents’ meeting was, ‘you’re going to drive people into looking at taking EPO’.
“Now of course when I said that everyone went nuts, but it seems night follows day, so that was always a big issue. I don’t think it’s happened but I still think you’ve got to be careful when you’re driving athletes into a position where they have to think about, ‘how can I get fitter when there’s nowhere else to go?’
“When you’ve slept in an oxygen tent, when you’re not drinking, when your skinfolds are down and you’re still gasping for air and your tongue’s hanging out at the 10-minute mark of the last quarter and the coach is saying, ‘get on and run’, they’re the things you look at and say, ‘gee, we’ve got to be careful’.
“Keep our game as natural as possible and then you mitigate the circumstances as much as you possibly can.
“We’re in a position with footy (where) we don’t need to play in the international level, so we can be as hard as we want to on our drugs in footy and I think the AFL are doing a pretty good job but I’d toughen up even further.”