Disturbing drugs bombshell rocked AFL coach
FORMER St Kilda coach Grant Thomas has revealed he was stunned when told recreational drug use was "rife" among players during his time at the club.
In his podcast the ex-Saints mentor opened up about how, shortly after he finished his tenure in 2006, he was "devastated" when one player told him about what had allegedly happened under Thomas's watch.
"I would've had a suspicion of one or two, but no more than a week or so after I finish, one of the players, he told me what had actually been going on, which basically devastated me," Thomas said on Sam, Mike & Thommo.
"He said that it (drug use) was rife - a lot of them.
"Some of the players that were mentioned could've dropped me."
Thomas spoke further about the bombshell when talking to AFL legends Tim Watson and Garry Lyon on SEN Breakfast.
The 60-year-old said he couldn't believe he'd been in the dark about the alleged drug use because he believed he was so close to his players.
Thomas also alleged cocaine was the main drug he had been told was being used.
"I had no idea and I prided myself on how close I was and personal with every single one of the players on the list and you could've blown me over with a feather when I found out," Thomas said.
"I thought I knew them but I didn't know them that well, obviously.
"It was sort of just like, 'What's the big deal? It happens everywhere', and that was in 2006.
"I suppose what the guys do these days is they have some (cocaine) and it's well accepted amongst the playing group, but it's a bit startling to people like myself."
Thomas also suggested the issue of drug use in the AFL was likely worse now than when he was coaching, and he didn't believe enough was being done to combat the problem.
"I'd be amazingly surprised if people have pulled their head in. You hear regularly different rumours about different players," Thomas said.
"It's just not reported. It's not something the media talk about.
"I just find it really disturbing and a great concern and I don't know that enough is being done about it."
Former St Kilda president Rod Butterss has previously admitted to taking cocaine during his time with the club.
Speaking on The Footy Show in 2017, he said he had never seen cocaine until he arrived at the Saints.
"(AFL is) a party environment after dark, there's a lot of drugs," Butterss said. "A lot of drugs. A lot of alcohol, a lot of gambling."
Butterss left St Kilda in 2007 and later admitted he had made decisions while under the influence of alcohol, but denied ever taking drugs with St Kilda players.
"I have to put my hand up and say, as an alcoholic during that period, albeit high-functioning, there were times when I had to make decisions about people's welfare that in hindsight I'm ashamed I wasn't in the best possible shape to make those decisions," Butters said on The Footy Show.
Two years ago, former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt outlined his shock at the dramatic revelations.
"That certainly didn't apply to the playing group, I can speak factually about that," Riewoldt said on The Footy Show.
"We were challenging for premierships throughout that period. A prelim in 2004 that we lost by a goal, a prelim in 2005 that we arguably could have and should have won, and to hear decisions were being made under the influence is disappointing."