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AFL looks at former Demon fitness coach

A FITNESS coach who departed Melbourne at the end of this season has become the latest target of the AFL's investigation into the tanking affair of 2009.

With investigator Brett Clothier returning to Adelaide in recent days to re-interview former Demons coach Dean Bailey, the inquiry has widened with the league now scrutinising the behaviour of coaches on the Melbourne bench during specific games in 2009.

Fairfax Media understands the AFL has summoned Adam Paulo, who was the club's fitness coach that year and departed in less-than-happy circumstances in the past month, and questioned him about strategic moves made during the largely losing season of 2009.

Former Demons fitness boss Joel Hocking, who now works at Carlton, has been interviewed at least three times, with at least one Melbourne doctor who sat on the bench during games that year also summoned. Investigators have attempted to determine whether clear positional or other strategic decisions were employed in a bid to manipulate the result. Bailey's role in the investigation remains intriguing and rests upon his interpretation of instructions and comments made by Chris Connolly. The Demons are privately insisting Connolly's statements - including a sack threat - were tongue in cheek.

While one view is that the losing strategy had been subtly in place much earlier in the season, several key games have been scrutinised including successive losses to Sydney and Richmond in rounds 17 and 18 that year.

With the probe into allegations the club deliberately lost games to gain early draft picks continuing, it is not known whether the AFL intends to recall players from that season.

Brock McLean, who provoked the investigation in August when he said that ''Blind Freddie'' could see that Melbourne was tanking in 2009, has not been re-interviewed since departing for a holiday in the US last month. McLean has since joined his Carlton teammates in Arizona and is due home on November 25.

Former Melbourne skipper James McDonald has been the subject of some interest from the AFL investigation team.

Another Demon, Lynden Dunn, is one player several Melbourne officials and former officials believed to have staged an unofficial protest during three-quarter-time of the Richmond game, which was won by the Tigers with a kick after the siren.

Dunn is one of several players who is believed to have passionately urged his teammates to win during the last change of that game, with the suggestion he may have referred to rebelling against club policy in doing so.

Connolly, who gave the alleged instruction to ''hold firm'' in a meeting in the Junction Oval ''vault'' and remember the rewards on offer in terms of a priority draft pick, has vehemently denied evidence received in the form of taped interviews undertaken by past and present Melbourne officials.

Chief executive Cameron Schwab also faces penalties if it is established he communicated any form of instruction to lose games.

Melbourne has engaged Ray Finkelstein, QC, to represent it. No decision of the inquiry is expected before next week's national draft.

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