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AFL warned Hird against peptides

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'It wasn't a banned substance under definition'

Sports commentator Gerard Whateley is confident Essendon football players will be cleared of any wrong doing surrounding the use of the anti-obesity drug AOD-9604.

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EXCLUSIVE

The AFL warned James Hird in late 2011 to not involve his players in a peptides program.

Sources close to the joint investigation by ASADA and the AFL into Essendon have told Fairfax Media that the AFL warning came after senior league officials had learnt that Hird had been investigating the anti-doping status of certain peptides.

Investigators appear to have built a compelling case that Bombers coach James Hird was an enthusiastic supporter of the club's injecting program.

Investigators appear to have built a compelling case that Bombers coach James Hird was an enthusiastic supporter of the club's injecting program. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Hird faces a lengthy suspension from the game for his key role in instigating the experimental drug program that sees his players also facing suspension for potentially breaching World Anti-Doping Agency regulations.

As the AFL-ASADA investigation wraps up it has been alleged that the AFL told Hird to stay away from peptides more than a year before Hird claimed he was "shocked" by the position in which the club found itself and took "full responsibility" for the Bombers' football department practices. The AFL had allegedly been told that Hird was investigating peptides in his determination to introduce a high-performance program heavily punctuated with substances that would prove to be a new frontier in the fast-tracked strength and conditioning of his senior team.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou, when questioned on Tuesday night about the AFL warning Hird, said: "I'm refusing to comment on that. I'm not giving a running commentary on the investigation." Demetriou, who is also an AFL commission member, has said previously that he would not speculate on allegations that could prove prejudicial to the Essendon investigation or its ultimate findings expected to be handed down next month.

Evidence has also emerged suggesting that Hird's senior assistant, Mark Thompson, cautioned the Bombers' coaching group and football staff against the injecting program. Thompson, one of the last witnesses to give evidence in the investigation, is believed to have voiced concerns about the multiple injections and off-site intravenous program carried out by bio-chemist Stephen Dank.

But Hird, a club legend, premiership captain and Australian Football Hall of Famer, has emerged as an enthusiast behind the injecting program while insisting that he put caveats on the treatment of his players.

They included the proviso that all substances must be WADA compliant and that no harm would come to his players. The only public evidence of those caveats has come in the form of an email to the now suspended high-performance boss, Dean Robinson, sent by Hird in January 2012.

While Hird has said he was confident the club would be in a "very good position" once the investigation had been completed, that investigation appears to have built a compelling case that the Bombers' senior coach was an enthusiastic supporter of Dank's program, support strongly backed by his football operations boss, Danny Corcoran.

It is believed that Hird's performance in his interview in May with ASADA and the AFL did not completely convince investigators that the senior coach had acted appropriately in demonstrating due diligence.

And evidence from some key witnesses has not been favourable to Hird, painting a picture of a coach with a fascination of exploring the so-called "new frontier", a program described by club-appointed investigator Ziggy Switkowski as "a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged or documented within the club".

Hird has denied Dank's allegation that he was injected with the WADA-banned anti-obesity drug Hexarelin but Fairfax Media understands evidence has emerged that the banned substance was last year onsite at the club.

Demetriou said on Monday any suggestion the AFL was attempting to "soften up" the public in the expectation of a lenient penalty to the Bombers was fanciful.

Hird's media adviser Ian Hanke told Fairfax Media: "We have no comment to make on this story, but the facts will be revealed in due course."

On Tuesday, Essendon released a statement, in which it denied Hird had been warned by the AFL.

‘‘This is factually incorrect. Until the ASADA investigation is completed the full context of this particular meeting should not be the subject of innuendo,’’ the club said in a statement.

Essendon also insisted that Hird had not been the main figure behind the supplements program, and said suspended high performance coach Dean Robinson, not Hird, was responsible for Dank coming to the club.

The statement also expressed angered at the leaking of investigation details.

‘‘Representatives from the club have requested all parties to the investigation to guarantee confidentiality and to afford natural justice,’’ the statement said.

‘‘Breaching this confidentiality directly undermines the trust in the process and selective disclosure of information relating to the investigation appears to be deliberately threatening the integrity of this process.

‘‘For the reputation and integrity of senior coach James Hird to be questioned without the right to due process, is extremely disturbing and inappropriate in the circumstances.’’

With AAP

55 comments so far

  • Gerard,
    Cocaine is legal for use in humans, usually in eye surgery.
    Heroin (as diamorphine) is legal for use in humans, usually in British women in confinement.
    AOD-9604 is illegal for use in all humans.
    Only an arrogant fool would believe AOD-9604 is okay to use in humans, who happen to play professional sports.
    As AOD-9604 is an illegal drug, how do you think Hirdy and Danky got it?
    These alleged cheats will be lucky not to get jail time.
    Mazza.

    Commenter
    Michael Zimmerman
    Date and time
    July 17, 2013, 1:23PM
    • The intellectual property of AOD-9604 is owned by Calzada Limited, a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. On April 26, 2013, Calzada released a statement saying AOD-9604 had no authority in any jurisdiction to ''be marketed as a pharmaceutical product''. This is materially different to having no approval worldwide for human therapeutic use. Calzada goes on to say AOD-9604 can be LEGALLY prescribed by Australian-registered medical doctors and prepared and supplied by qualified compounding chemists. Moreover, AOD-9604 has been granted unconditional ''recognised as safe'' status by the US's Food and Drug Administration.

      Commenter
      BANGA
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 3:24PM
    • Mazza, ........Just went and purchased AOD-9604 from DJ's. Yes DJ's....... But please continue to tell me what you know about Arrogant Fools and all things drug related.

      Commenter
      Phoenix81
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 4:13PM
    • So illegal you can buy it at Myers.

      Commenter
      Claude
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 4:30PM
  • Ah Caroline, you just can't let this go can you? What happened in your life to make you so bitter? Your sad biases mean your "journalism" suffers. Lift your game and be objective.

    Commenter
    Elijah Baley
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 17, 2013, 1:24PM
    • I hope she continues she is one of the few journalist prepared to tell the truth about Essendon Football Club

      Commenter
      WERZELCUMICH
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 2:34PM
    • Can't let it go? What, like the football world have just forgotten that Essendon have been cheating and it's only Caro who's pointing the finder? All this article says is that the AFL told fairfax that they warned Hird about the peptide program, which obviously undermines his earlier position of being "shocked" by the revelation. I really don't get why people are crying biased journalism.

      I'm so sick of people making it out like this whole thing is a media witch hunt against the Essendon football club, pretending that breaking international anti-doping laws isn't a big deal at all. Essendon played a dangerous game in trying to do "whatever it takes" to get an edge, and it seems they went too far and will be appropriately punished. An investigation is being undertaken, and the media reports on statements made and publicly released information. Essendon did this to themselves and deserve the level the scrutiny they're getting. It's not some big conspiracy or witch hunt.

      Commenter
      Zorph
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 3:40PM
    • It seems that Caroline Wilson is ready to grab and run with whatever anti-Essendon rumour she can find. A reply from Essendon, reported subsequent to this article in The Age says: "This is factually incorrect. Until the ASADA investigation is completed the full context of this particular meeting should not be the subject of innuendo".
      It will be interesting to see how all this pans out. In any case, as far throwing mud at Hird goes his job is is to coach the players. It's pretty tenuous to lay the blame at his feet for this situation. Really, it's time for journos like Caroline Wilson to let this investigation run its course rather than try to influence it.

      Commenter
      Doug
      Location
      Hobart
      Date and time
      July 17, 2013, 8:07PM
    • Dougy, I really feel sorry for you. Truly, I do... I'm not laughing when I say this. Well, not much.

      Commenter
      Delusional
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 4:46PM
  • Drugs are bad, mkay?

    Commenter
    JD
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 17, 2013, 1:37PM

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