Pickering backs Swan and clears the air

Magpie Dane Swan complained about a series of early morning drug tests in Arizona in 2011.
Magpie Dane Swan complained about a series of early morning drug tests in Arizona in 2011.

DANE Swan's manager has cleared the air with Collingwood, but maintains the champion midfielder does not have to change his lifestyle.

Liam Pickering met Magpies officials on Friday, concerned about the club's reaction to claims in Fairfax Media it should sack the Brownlow medallist because of his off-field lifestyle.

Pickering, one of the AFL's leading agents, was disappointed the Magpies had not reacted with more vigour in defending Swan on Thursday. However, he has since spoken with Magpies president Eddie McGuire and met with other Collingwood football bosses.

''I have had a good chat with him [McGuire]. He has explained the whole situation to me. I have taken it on board. I have no issues with the Pies at all,'' Pickering said.

He denied that Swan (pictured) , suspended for two matches last season for arriving at training in an unfit state after a night out, was reportedly involved in an off-season scuffle and continues to be the subject of rumours, had to change his lifestyle. ''No, he doesn't,'' Pickering said on SEN radio. ''There is no problem. He is across exactly what needs to be done. We've discussed it, we know where he is at, and we move on.''

Swan emerged as a talking point after Magpies chief executive Gary Pert reopened the illicit drugs debate, claiming it was the biggest issue facing the sport. He said it was during the post-season that some players, with plenty of money and time on their hands, were at particular risk.

Pickering said he would not directly ask any of his players whether they had taken drugs. Swan has been questioned but has denied it.

''You trust their better judgment in the situation that they will understand the implications. I haven't come across it. I don't see it as a massive problem. I don't think every player is out there doing the wrong thing. I am sure they are not,'' Pickering said.

''I am sure there are some that probably might be but again how would I know? Unless you see it with your own eyes, how would you know? I don't think it's as bad as what they are saying.''

Several club bosses, including Pert, are agitating for change to the AFL's three-strikes illicit drugs policy.

Players can be tested at any time but there is support for greater off-season target testing, with those who have raised the suspicions of their clubs to be tested on a daily basis.

There is also a push for more hair tests to be conducted but these cannot be used for a positive drug test.

The AFL Players Association says it is willing to look at all measures but points out there is more to the issue than simply adjusting the policy.

This story Pickering backs Swan and clears the air first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.