Ben Cousins says he has spent most of his AFL career trying to hide his drug use, going so far as to shave his head to avoid drug tests.
The Richmond player said although he would have passed a drugs hair test at the time, he shaved his head because he felt the AFL was out to get him.
"I had, at the time - rightly or wrongly - very little faith in the people that were going to make a decision on my future being able to comprehend the results of that test," he said.
“Obviously there were some concerns with it, and I felt that the AFL was out to get me.
“Now that was just how I felt at the time, and that’s probably why I haven’t, right through this process, spoken publicly, because I probably wasn’t equipped to.
“I was dealing with (addiction), and to deal with it in a public forum, is very, very difficult."
Cousins was sacked by the West Coast Eagles in 2007 and deregistered by the league for the 2008 season. He was resigned under strict conditions for 2009.
In a rare in-depth interview on Fox Sports' On The Couch program, he said he was "making progress" but would always struggle with addiction.
"I've stayed clean a lot longer than a long weekend," he said.
He denied his illicit drug use had enhanced his performance on the field or affected his commitment to the game.
"I certainly spent the vas majority of my career trying to hide the fact I was reliant on recreational drugs," he said.
"But that didn't diminish the application I had to my footy, the want for the footy club to do well.
"It's easy to get this idea that I didn't care about my footy but I cared about it and worked hard - as hard, if not harder - than anyone at that footy club."
Appearing relaxed at the hard line of questioning, Cousins mentioned that he hoped he would inspire other people suffering drug addiction.
"There is a huge opportunity to see my story as a positive one to give other people with my condition a bit of hope," he said.
Right now his life goal is: "To stay on track, keep moving forward. Progress is being made and I'm moving in the right direction."
See part one of the full interview of the video here and follow the links to parts two and three.
Photo: Getty/Getty Images Sport/Robert Cianfone
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