Interchange rules may tempt players to use drugs: McGuire

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire fears that restrictions to interchange rotations could drive AFL players to use performance-enhancing drugs in an effort to keep up with the game.

The league first introduced a cap of 120 rotations in 2014 and cut that figure to 90 in 2016. Talk of further reductions to the cap in the future has McGuire concerned.

McGuire believes some players could feel compelled to take prohibited drugs such as EPO to keep up with the ever-increasing demands put on their bodies.

EPO, or erythropoietin, is a peptide banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which stimulates red blood cell production.

It garnered worldwide attention as a result of the blood doping scandal that engulfed professional cycling and cost Lance Armstrong his seven Tour de France titles.

"I think the AFL have got to be careful," McGuire told Triple M on Thursday.

"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."

This story Interchange rules may tempt players to use drugs: McGuire first appeared on The Age.