Tuck still only AFL player banned

TRAVIS Tuck is part of footballing royalty, as a son of Hawthorn great Michael Tuck, nephew of Gary Ablett snr and cousin of superstar Gary Ablett jnr.

But he also holds an unenviable position as the first – and to this date, only – player to have been suspended under the AFL’s illicit drugs code.

Tuck was banned for 12 games in September 2010 after he was found the previous month slumped unconscious in a car in Berwick, with drug paraphernalia nearby, which constituted a third strike under the league’s drugs policy.

Tuck’s drug problem came as a great shock to Hawthorn, which was unaware of the young man’s struggles, and only learnt he had recorded a third strike at the same time as the rest of the football industry.

While Tuck, who now plays for Werribee in the VFL, is the only player to have been outed by the illicit drugs policy, plenty of other big names have paid a great deal for their drug problems.

Western Bulldogs midfielder Tom Liberatore was last year suspended by his club, forced to attend counselling and had a strike recorded against his name when found bleary-eyed and drunk, and with a small amount of an illicit drug in his pocket. Six weeks later, former Collingwood player Gavin Crosisca admitted that his addiction to alcohol, cannabis and speed had cost him his house, his coaching career and, for some time, his family.

Colleagues said at the time they had no idea he was a regular drug user.

Liberatore still has a footballing career and Crosisca has vowed to do what he can to steer others away from the troubles he endured.

But Ben Cousins is still trying to rebuild his life after years of living dangerously at West Coast.

He was was, according to his own admissions, at times, addicted to ice, cocaine and speed. Despite his footballing standing, Cousins was sacked by West Coast in 2007 after one indiscretion too many.

The 2005 Brownlow medallist never tested positive during AFL drug testing – which, for critics highlights the inadequacies of the league’s policy.

In his autobiography, Ben Cousins: My Life Story, he outlined how he evaded drug testers.

”I had to plan methodically, looking for windows when we had a Friday night or Saturday afternoon game and I’d know I had enough time to rest and get the drugs out of my system,” he wrote.

”Six-day breaks were too hard, but if we had an eight-day break I’d be rubbing my hands together.

”There was a urine-testing program in place, but I’d learnt that I only got tested once or twice a season, and the testers never came on Mondays, when I was at my most vulnerable.”

West Coast in 2007 was a club rampant with off-field problems.

But it was nothing like the devastation the club faced in October of that year when a favourite son, former player Chris Mainwaring, died from a seizure after a cocaine overdose.

Cousins had been with Mainwaring hours before the 41-year-old died.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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