Collingwood's Nathan Buckley surrounded by Cats players shortly after wiping blood on Cameron Ling's jumper.  
Monday, July 15
Geelong Advertiser _ DYLAN HOWARD

GEELONG legend Barry Stoneham yesterday called for Nathan Buckley to be suspended for at least two weeks for smearing blood on Cats' tagger Cameron Ling's jumper in Saturday's blockbuster at the MCG.

An outraged Stoneham said the Collingwood champion's behaviour during the Cats' 28-point victory was akin to a spitting or kicking charge.

``I thought it was a disgrace,'' he said. ``It was one of the worst things you can do in football. I think he should get 2-3 weeks regardless of who he is or what team he plays for.''

The blood controversy in which Buckley was reported on a misconduct charge overshadowed Geelong's sixth win in a row and its best in a season, which is seemingly headed towards finals action.

Geelong Advertiser columnist Dwayne Russell also thought Buckley should be suspended and fined up to $50,000 for his ``moment of madness''.

Buckley, meanwhile, yesterday told of his regret at smearing blood on Ling's jumper but said he had been provoked.

``There was provocation prior to the incident, but that will all come out in the wash,'' Buckley, sporting multiple stitches to his left eye, told Channel Nine.

``It's not pretty - there's definitely times in your career when you look back on things and aren't proud of them and that's one of them .... it's an act I'm not terribly proud of.''

The five-time best-and-fairest winner was ordered off the field in the first quarter, bleeding from a cut to his eyebrow sustained in a clash of bodies.

As he walked off he wiped blood on the jumper of Ling in an unusual and illegal ploy to also force the Cat from the field, sparking on field remonstrations.

Buckley will meet with club officials and his advocate today to decide how to defend the charge at tomorrow night's tribunal.

Reports last night suggested Buckley would plead guilty to conduct charge under harassment.

Asked whether he anticipated a suspension, Buckley responded: ``No I don't, but that's all before us.''

Also speaking on Channel Seven, Robert DiPierdomenico said Buckley should be suspended for 4-6 weeks.

``This is not just a footy issue it's a health issue.''

But Hawk goalkicking great Jason Dunstall described the controversy as ``over the top'', ``ridiculous'' and not reportable.

Geelong president Frank Costa said he was not surprised to see Buckley's public explanation yesterday.

``It's not the sort of thing you want to see a high profile player with the reputation of Buckley doing and he knows that.''

The incident is expected also to bring more pressure to bear on the league to alter the blood rule, which is evidently being exploited for tactical reasons.

The league was thought to favour a relaxation of the rule so as not to punish the likes of Buckley and force players off after contact which causes bleeding, taking into account the remote chances of transmission of any blood-borne disease.

In a newspaper column he wrote in early May, Buckley ironically mentioned how the blood role needed to be reviewed because of the possibility of players exploiting it to their side's advantage.

``There have been incidents where bleeding players wipe blood on to opponents and it could get even further out of hand if the rule is not modified from its current form,'' Buckley wrote this year. ``The player group acknowledges the rule was initiated in part to protect us from ourselves but now that danger has been somewhat clarified the rule needs to be relaxed. How much weight the AFL places on the image side of the scenario will be discovered during a review at the end of the year.''