MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The use of social drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines is on the rise in Australian Rules football with 26 positive tests and a similar number of confessions of use last year for what the Australian Football League (AFL) describes as "illicit drugs".
The AFL differentiates between the use of performance-enhancing substances and those drugs more associated with the social environment, dealing with the latter with a combination of education, counselling, treatment and ongoing support.
The results, which included positive tests for cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy, was a big rise on the six failed tests in 2011 and a disappointment for the league.
"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 Andrew Demetriou said.
The league runs a "three strikes" policy for what they consider "illicit drug" use, with players being handed a fine and lengthy ban only when they have transgressed for a third time.
AFL club Essendon are currently under a separate investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority over their administration of supplements to players amid allegations the use of peptides is widespread in Australian sport.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)