Sydney: Australia's cricketers who test positive for drugs could lose their contracts or be banned from international, domestic or club selection for up to three years under new penalties announced Friday.
The policy will see all players contracted to play in matches under Cricket Australia's control face out-of-competition and random testing in a bid to combat and tackle the use of illicit substances in the game.
Players who test positive for a first time will be fined five per cent of their retainer and banned from matches for 20 days -- both penalties suspended -- under the regulations.
But if they test positive a second time they will be named, fined 15 percent of their retainer and suspended for 40 days from international, state and club cricket. They will also be target tested and have to enter a rehabilitation programme.
A third violation brings a 12-month ban and a suspension of their contract, and a fourth infringement will trigger immediate termination of the player's contract and a three-year ban.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the policy was a year in the making, working with the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), state and territory associations and the federal government.
All cricketers subject to the code could be selected for out-of-competition testing without notice and could be subject to any number of tests, either randomly or targeted, he said.
"Cricket Australia is serious about keeping our sport drug free with a policy which balances deterrence with player welfare," Sutherland said.
"Illicit drug use is a community problem and a serious health issue ... Evidence suggests this is a particular issue within the age group of most of our contracted cricketers.
"We hope this policy will deter players against the use of illicit substances."
ACA chief executive Paul Marsh said the players' union has helped develop the drugs policy and its introduction had received overwhelmingly support.
"To develop an appropriate policy, the ACA consulted a variety of experts but most importantly with the players who will be directly affected," Marsh said.
The ACA surveyed contracted male, underage male and Australian and state women players to determine their attitudes towards illicit drugs.
Marsh said 88 percent of players believe cricket needs a tougher drugs policy and 74 percent of players believe a welfare system that gives players a chance to be rehabilitated was appropriate.