A Mallee-based football club have "drawn a line in the sand" on illicit drug use.
Rumours have been rife after several Birchip-Watchem Football Club players were found to have taken drugs on Saturday after their match against Sea Lake-Nandaly Tigers.
The Mail-Times understands the drugs were not performance-enhancing.
President Andrew Frank said the players had made a "serious mistake", but the club would continue to stand by them and offer support.
He would not talk about the specifics of the incident.
"The blokes involved have broken a few team rules, and we've dealt with it and we're moving on," he said.
"Every club should be keen to stamp out that stuff. We're a family football club and we want to encourage young blokes coming through to be great people on and off the field.
"We've drawn a line in the sand and now we will move on."
Mr Frank said the club did not have a drugs problem.
"It's far from rife at the club; it's just a mistake made by a few blokes and we'll make sure we stamp it out," Mr Frank said.
"I'd also like to clear up that there was not anything done before or during the game as some rumours are suggesting. That is not the case."
Mr Frank said the club would take disciplinary action.
"There may be suspensions. We have a week off (for the interleague bye). The players might get a couple of weeks off," Mr Frank said.
"But at the end of the day, the football club is a family. We have to get behind each other and support them so they can be the future leaders of the club.
"(The football club) is the most important thing in town. There's no better place for them than that team environment.
"It's hard on them as much as anything. They're good lads, they've just mucked up and made a mistake."
Mr Frank said the incident was reflective of society's relationship with illicit drugs.
"I'd like to add it's a problem with society," Mr Frank said. "There are music festivals popping up everywhere and it's no wonder these young people aren't aware of what is allowed and what is not allowed.
"I'll continue to vouch for these young fellas. They have learnt from their mistakes."
Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce chairman Tim Shaw supported the club's decision to stand by the players.
"These people need help. They don't need to be kicked out of the club," Mr Shaw said. "They need support and assistance."
Mr Shaw said there was a wider concern about the prevalence of drugs within the sporting community.
"There is a culture around it ... we've heard from sporting clubs in the Wimmera that they are concerned about illegal drugs," he said.
"We will continue to make clubs aware that they have a duty of care ... to make sure any illegal drug use is tackled."
AFL Wimmera-Mallee general manager Bruce Petering said sporting clubs could be a positive force in people's lives.
"It would be naive to think there isn't drugs at some of our football and netball clubs. The clubs are a part of society and that is the reality of broader society," Mr Petering said.
"Clubs are generally very good at looking after the welfare of their players. Something I know, talking to club presidents and league people ... something we have to be better at is educating our players on the effects and the harm of drug taking."
A forum about tackling illegal drugs in sport supported by the Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce and the Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly was in Horsham in February.
"There have been a number of education forums over the last few years," Mr Petering said. "It's just about education and helping clubs understand these issues."
League officials from the North Central Football League could not be contacted for comment.
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