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Anger simmers below surface as charges laid

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Essendon will 'vigorously defend' charges

Essendon club chairman Paul Little maintains there was no breach of the AFL's anti-doping code after charges are laid against the club, coach James Hird and three other staff for bringing the game into disrepute.

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ANALYSIS

The scandal that has haunted the AFL's 2013 season delivered some form of resolution late on Tuesday when the game's governing body delivered serious charges against Essendon, its senior coach James Hird and three of his most trusted senior staff.

The senior coach has become a besieged figure and he remained defiant to the last, privately angry in the belief he had been ill-advised back in February to accept 'full responsibility' for the activities of his football department. 

The charges, communicated without colour or flair at 7.30pm by the AFL's legal executive Andrew Dillon, came after months of interviews, mini-dramas, sub-plots and conspiracy theories, and even in the final hours the sensitivity of the wording was being debated by some of Australia's finest legal minds.

James Hird, coach of the Essendon Football Club leaving home the morning after  Dean Robinson said his side of the Footy Club's drug saga. 1ST AUGUST 2013 PHOTO: PENNY STEPHENS THE AGE Click for more photos

Essendon's supplement crisis

As its on-field fortunes rose early in 2013, Essendon's off-field reputation was besmirched by drawn-out and confusing investigations into the club's sport science practices. Photo: Penny Stephens

Essendon's chairman Paul Little admitted his club had done wrong but declared it would ''vigorously'' defend the charges when the club is expected to face the AFL Commission on August 26.

His club faces the loss of draft picks, premiership points and a multimillion-dollar fine. Hird and his three fellow staff members remain desperate to save their reputations, having already been tainted by the potentially harmful and illegal program they allowed to continue for so long.

The senior coach has become a besieged figure and he remained defiant to the last, privately angry in the belief he had been ill-advised back in February to accept ''full responsibility'' for the activities of his football department.

On the morning the charges were announced he claimed his players had taken no performance-enhancing or harmful substances and pointed to the fact the ASADA summary was an ''interim report''.

But this works two ways. The bad news for the Essendon players is that there remains no guarantee that infraction notices will not be served. Despite the fact ASADA believes it has enough evidence to move on players, it is waiting to continue investigating Essendon's program under new legislative powers.

In the meantime Hird, Mark Thompson, Danny Corcoran and Dr Bruce Reid have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute for their roles in the club's 2011-12 drugs program.

Essendon, Hird, assistant coach Thompson, football manager Corcoran and Reid were charged under AFL Rule 1.6 with engaging in conduct that is unbecoming or likely to prejudice the interests or reputation of the AFL or bringing the game of football into disrepute.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations are expected to continue for the next 10 days while Hird and his team must also battle to remain a viable finals threat despite the fact the Bombers could be forcibly removed from the finals.

A number of Hird's assistant coaches and the departed high-performance manager Dean Robinson are also expected to face charges from the AFL, but those developments have been shelved until the main players are dealt with.

165 comments

  • This should have been done at the beginning of the season. However, Andy Dem was again in denial.
    Andy Demitreeooo should be gone as well.

    Commenter
    Left Right Out
    Location
    Sideline
    Date and time
    August 14, 2013, 6:17AM
    • Everyone does it now so what. Every gym I go it's what people want this is not big news.

      Commenter
      Meh1
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 6:51AM
    • And just how could they have done that?

      Commenter
      Max Power
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 7:02AM
    • Well I expect that today this page will be FLOODED with apologetic EFC supporters that accused Carro of being wrong and incompetent when she was right all along. The FACTS have finally come out. And even Little concedes the facts aren't good. Should Carro start holding her breath?

      Commenter
      The FACTS
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 7:22AM
    • @The FACTS..Pray tell, where has Caro been proved correct. The AFL (Andrew Dillon) said last night that on all the evidence gathered that there had been no breach by the players of the anti-doping code by the players. Caro said they had been using performance enhancing drugs and AOD 9604. The investigation is still ongoing from ASADA so they can use their extra power to interview Stephen Dank...what do you think he is going to say.....Just face the FACT, the players are in the clear. The only people to have brought the game into disrepute has been sensationalist media commentary by taking the slightest shred of circumstantial evidence and using it as fact and the AFL for their running commentary on this issue such as when Demetriou said "I'm privy to more information".....

      Commenter
      Michael of Eynesbury
      Location
      Eynesbury
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 8:26AM
    • Michael of Eynesbury

      The players are clear for the moment but please remember how long it took WADA to get Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones and others.

      The players were administered with some form of substance over a period of time. We all know this and there is no denial from EFC. Essendon's shambolic record keeping does not identify who was given what. Why? What were they trying to hide? One could draw the conclusion that this is the same as taking masking agents to hide performance enhancing drugs.

      This is a huge OH&S issue for AFL and EFC and one of the central planks I believe AFL has for laying the charges it has.

      It won't be over for EFC when the AFL hearing is concluded. Watch ASADA go to work at season end to ensure player suspensions occur at the start of 2014 season.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Wahroonga
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 8:52AM
    • @Michael - Caroline Wilson revealed that the Bombers were using banned performance enhancing drugs. Hird, the EFC and thousands of supporters denied this and most abused her. She was right. They were wrong. FACT.
      And now the hair-splitting of every one of her statements over the past 6 months to try and salvage a little dignity is pretty sad.

      Commenter
      Realist
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 8:57AM
    • ^^all of the above - There's people with a strong opinion (and bias) that sit on both sides of the fence. Which is a shame. Unfortunately I see it as being poor management by Essendon's staff that allowed this story to begin. Also it's a story thats gathered momentum and steered purely by the media.... There's people that now think they know more than ASADA and the AFL (im looking at you Caro) The AFL has failed massively in this saga...they were not prepared for this and it shows... I think you folks need to step back and look at this with both your eyes...

      Commenter
      Johnson
      Location
      Syd
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 9:49AM
    • Right, so players sexually assaulting women doesn't bring the game into disrepute? Nor does racial vilification? How about abusing a player about his deceased child? Or coaches running around the ground calling opposition players "rapists"? Players beating up on members of the public? Peeing on police station walls? What about entire teams wreaking havoc on end of season flights? I could go on and on. But no, it's a lack of governance that brings the great game into disrepute. Skip the tribunal Bombers, take the AFL straight to court. Not much to show for six months of vitriol, Fairfax. Looks like your campaign is going the way of your share price.

      Oh, and if ASADA really believed they had enough evidence to charge individual players you know what they would do? Hint: it rhymes with "they would charge individual players".

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 9:55AM
    • @ Meh1
      Everyone DOES NOT do it now and even if they did that wouldn't justify Essendon's misconduct or anyone elses.
      Nobody is right if everybody is wrong!
      Taking illegal drugs - or 'supplements' as they are euphemistically termed of late - is simply cheating. No ifs; no buts.
      All involved at Essendon or anywhere else, must face the consequences of their poor sportsmanship.

      Commenter
      Christy Lau
      Date and time
      August 14, 2013, 10:02AM

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