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'Deeply ashamed' Bailey Smith responds to photo with illicit substance as Bulldogs investigate

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11th June, 2022
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Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith is ‘deeply ashamed’ as photos surface on social media that appear to show the 21-year old with a bag of white powder.

Smith, who is currently serving a two-match suspension for a headbutt on Geelong’s Zach Tuohy, released a statement apologising to teammates, Bulldogs fans and the AFL community for the photos, confirmed by the club to have been taken in late 2021 during a period in which Smith took personal leave.

“After much reflection, I am now in a position to confess to indulging in behaviours in late 2021 of which I am deeply ashamed,” the statement reads. 

“I do not have an excuse for those behaviours, however the state of my mental health over that period post Grand Final dramatically deteriorated, and I spiralled out of control leading to poor decision making and actions at the time.

“All of this resulting in the leave I took from football at the commencement of pre-season training late last year.

“The depth of my emotions over that period, coupled with some of my behaviours, have reminded me that, as a person, I am still very much a work-in-progress.

“I know I have obligations beyond myself, not just contractually – but in terms of the example I set through the decisions I make, and I will be better.


“I have made mistakes.  I am very aware of that, and I fully own it.

“I unreservedly apologise to my family, my teammates, my club and its sponsors, the AFL, my supporters and my sponsors.

“I have made mistakes, but I resolve to learn from each and to do all I can to avoid letting myself down, and those around me.

Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs and Zach Tuohy of the Cats exchange a greeting.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains released an accompanying statement expressing his disappointment in Smith, but stating their commitment to ensure the midfielder is supported by the club.

“We absolutely do not condone our players being involved with illicit substances and firmly believe players are well-educated on what constitutes appropriate behaviour,” Bains’ statement reads.

“As a football club with significant influence, we have a responsibility to uphold the highest of standards, as we represent the community, our members and fans, our corporate partners and our other stakeholders.


“Bailey is a young man who has faced many challenges and pressures off the field in recent times which he has spoken of extensively.  He endured a particularly difficult time towards the end of last year that ultimately led to time away from football. 

“While this clearly does not excuse his behaviour, it is our responsibility as a Club to ensure we have supported, and we continue to support, Bailey’s health and wellbeing.

“We are encouraged that this year, Bailey has successfully put steps in place to ensure he can manage his mental health and be strong in his decision-making, while being able to perform to the best of his ability on the field. This has been reflected in his strong on-field performances across the 2022 AFL season.

“The Club has supported Bailey through this process, and we will continue to work closely with him and provide him the support he needs, as he continues his journey as a Bulldogs player.”

The statement also confirmed that a joint investigation between the Bulldogs and the AFL Integrity Unit is ongoing.

21-year old Smith has been one of the Bulldogs’ best performers in a difficult season, after a superb finals series in 2021 helped the club reach the grand final.

He has averaged nearly 32 disposals a game in 2022 so far, including a career-high 43 in the Dogs’ Round 5 win over North Melbourne.


Smith has quickly become one of the AFL’s most marketable figures; he is the most followed player on Instagram, with 371,000 followers.

Smith spent time away from the club in December last year for personal reasons, while he has already faced social media controversies in his young career; a fake nude photograph claiming to be of him began circulating in the days before the 2021 grand final.

Smith is currently uncontracted for 2023, with he and the Bulldogs reportedly in the process of negotiating a deal of up to $800,000 a year.