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Bombers a shambles

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Essendon players 'safe' from doping fallout

Essendon chairman David Evans tells 3AW's Neil Mitchell, he has full confidence his players are clear, but is less forthcoming about coach James Hird.

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Ziggy Switkowski's damning recommendations detailing the managerial failures at Essendon last season did not call to sack anyone. Nor did it miss anyone already singled out in the shambles that was the football operation of 2012.

Club chairman David Evans said he was deeply sorry about all that had occurred and not only placed himself on notice but would not guarantee the positions held by chief executive Ian Robson, coach James Hird nor football boss Danny Corcoran.

The behaviour of Essendon coach James Hird has been described as ''reckless''.

The behaviour of Essendon coach James Hird has been described as ''reckless''. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The Switkowski report

Evans and his board, to whom Switkowski also apportioned some blame, will meet in the coming days to carry out an in-depth review of the unabridged version of the investigation's findings. Structural change will be implemented within the football department and heads could still roll well before the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the AFL complete their investigation into a raft of allegations, including that players took banned substances.

The AFL and ASADA will also investigate Stephen Dank's assertion that six Essendon staffers, including Hird and two of his assistant coaches, took substances which are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Robson's future at the club remains in question. He chose not to comment on the Switkowski report on Monday, including the recommendation that "the CEO must be accountable for everything that happens within his organisation".

Just as Hird's inadequacies were explained in part by his lack of experience and the fact he was one of several "alpha males who carry the weight of supporters' expectations on their shoulders", Robson's failure to correctly oversee the dysfunctional football department was highlighted against the "commercial priorities" which consumed his time and attention.

Evans would not say whether any other senior staffer at Essendon had chosen to apologise, and certainly no one working at the club, apart from Evans, has taken any public responsibility. Hird, in fact, after stressing in February that the football operation was his responsibility, said with confidence after the Bombers defeated Fremantle in round three that the club would be in a very good position once all was revealed. That could not be said even after a heavily edited version of Switkowski's findings were made public.

Hird's own behaviour in approving medical and scientific practices which approached the line of risk and WADA compliance was indirectly described as "reckless".

Fairfax Media revealed last month that the Bombers' doctor of three decades, Bruce Reid, had been so concerned about the practices being run by sports scientist Stephen Dank with the football department's approval that he wrote to the board detailing his misgivings. It was also revealed the board never received the letter.

Evans said on Monday he could still not explain, despite the investigation, just who had failed to pass on the letter.

That Reid never mentioned his misgivings to Hird, with whom he has a longstanding friendship, remains inconceivable.

Switkowski confirmed what Reid and his fellow medico Brendan De Morton had already reported to the AFL and ASADA: That they had been frozen out, treated by the fitness team as "yesterday's men''.

The overview of the jab-happy environment at Essendon was described thus: "The rapid diversification into exotic supplements, sharp increase in frequency of injections, the shift to treatment offsite in alternative medicine clinics, emergence of unfamiliar suppliers, marginalisation of traditional medical staff etc, combine to create a disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged."

AFL Players Association chief Matt Finnis, whose barely concealed disgust at the club's treatment of its players has been one punctuation mark throughout this whole sorry saga, described the report as "scary".

Evans described it as "uncomfortable" and said his football club was on notice.

He chose to isolate the black period which bookended the report as "a finite time and not what the club was when it started and not what it is now".

And yet the impression continues to grow that Evans, who on Monday said he would face his members at the the end of the season - bringing forward his election by two years - feels deeply let down by men in whom he once had great faith. Clearly his friendship with Hird has been compromised and it remains telling that the two men have different legal representation and that Hird has hired a separate public relations adviser.

His right-hand man, Corcoran, was singled out as one of two key staffers whose responsibilities overlapped and failed to directly manage the rogue elements in the fitness team.

The other, Paul Hamilton, departed somewhat disenchanted late last year. There are also strong indications that similar "fuzzy lines of responsibility" occurred between Hird and his senior assistant Mark Thompson. Evans did not clarify which level of the club failed to report problems such as potentially inappropriate Medicare claims and concealed such problems in "holding depots".

The club continues to remain confident its players will emerge clean from the ASADA investigation. The same cannot be said of the men entrusted to take care of those players.

109 comments

  • Oh dear, poor journos. This is becoming like the climate changes debate.

    Oops, world not warming quickly enough, quick lets change the definition and call it climate change, then hang all sorts of dastardly scenarios off that.

    Bottom line here is nothing to do with, all of a sudden "corporate governance". As yet no-one anywhere has been proven to have taken anything illegal and or remotely performance enhancing. Which if I’m not mistaken is what this whole investigation is all about.

    Inappropriate practices (and who defines inappropriate here) are nothing to do with cheating or drug taking. Two separate issues. Years ago Chiropractors used inappropriate practices according to the medical profession, now they are regulated, are they all of a sudden appropriate?.

    When and if anybody is found to have cheated with performance enhancing substances, fine, drum them out of the game, it’s all they deserves, but until then, please let’s stop the inappropriate hand wringing.

    Oh, and I'm not an Bombers fan, I'm rather innapropriately a Saints fan.

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Glenelg SA
    Date and time
    May 07, 2013, 8:23AM
    • Lets just wait to see how this scenario play's out. I think you will find that Essendon will not get off scott free. If there is nothing to worry about why are Essendon airing all the dirty laundry now. Basically they have all the spin doctors working their magic and they have definately hoodwinked @chris.
      I can assure you of one thing - despite everything that happens James Hoird will come out of this laughing - he can do no wrong.

      Commenter
      Chopper
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:13AM
    • @Chris,
      I think you are being myopic here. On numerous levels the report is a lead, to what could possibly be an ugly ending.
      1. On one level this is a PR exercise arranged by Essendon to keep the PR machine moving, possibly deflecting from the real issue, but none the less maintaining control of the communications to the public. After a poor start, I think they are doing well. Many messages are now coming through along the lines that they are victims in all of this.
      2. The report, heavily redacted, concentrates on bad processes, poor governance, and lack of management control. Another way of protecting players and possibly soften the blow of any wrong doing. Lets face it, it is better for a couple of 'office' people (who are no longer are in the club) to be blamed.
      Underneath - if I received an audit report like this in my job, I would be asked to leave on the same day. I would not be allowed to put myself up for re-election in 6 months! If we separate the report from the 'cheating accusations', as you say, then this report still shows unacceptable methods, and ignorant behaviour.

      Commenter
      Aussie Jim
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:23AM
    • Chopper, I did say "When and if', You can't hoodwink a cynic old china

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Glenelg SA
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:30AM
    • Chris, as a Saints supporter you should be more worried about the dud of a coach appointed by the cancerous board lead by Greg "Humphrey B Bear" Westaway - the board who will in the end make the decision to relocate the Club to New Zealand.

      Don't think it will happen - just you wait.

      Commenter
      Ho hum....
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:39AM
    • @Ho hum,

      worry about your own club, mate. After all, your mob are the ones who lost to Gold Coast in the first round, and look like they're on a steady slide down the ladder.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:11AM
    • Chris, imho anyone who claims not to be a fan of the club they have bothered to defend in the comments section on is lying. You are a Bombers fan desperate to find a way out of the disaster they are now facing (in a year they could actually win the flag!). Ziggy's report is all fluff, you only have to read it (what was released anyway). No detail of what happened. No person singled out. No recommendations on who should be sacked. Nothing about the coach. Just crap about 'fuzziness' and 'distortion' and 'blurring'. The real report is ASADA's and we have to wait until August for that (just before the finals!). And, fyi, I am a Collingwood supporter. The second reason people write comments is to bag the clubs they don't like!

      Commenter
      Psi Cop
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:47AM
    • Just a man with a noose around his neck and the trapdoor he stands on about to open suddenly admits his guilt.... Essendon Football Club only called for an "Independant Internal investigation" (is such a thing really possible?) in a desparate attempt to salvage something from this unmitigated disaster.
      Does anyone truly believe the EFC board would have admitted anything if their hand had not been forced? Of course not!
      They deserve to be very harshly judged not just by Asada and the AFL, but by sports journalists everywhere (including Caroline Wilson) and the entire football community (including me) for their completely irresponsible behaviour and for attempting to cover-up their guilt right up until the trapdoor swung.

      Commenter
      Panther
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:59AM
    • Chris, global warming and climate change are real. Better roll up your sox before your ankles get wet.
      Best thing is to give football away as a corporate waste of time - gives plenty of time for the cryptic crossword and chess.
      Caroline's got to make a buck and people are completely over discussing the ladder or the draw, margins or impossible angles, sliding rules or post grazing.

      Commenter
      Christopher
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 12:04PM
    • I agree very much with most of your comments Chris, but as a big bomber supporter I am disappointed that the club had put themselves into a vunerable situation. There were bad practices in place at Essendon, and hopefully we come out of it as a better club. But we still haven't been found guilty of doing anything sinister other than we put ourselves in a position for something to go seriously wrong. I think everyone at the club needs to take some of the blame....learn from it and move on. Are Melbourne still being looked at? what about the other clubs mentioned ......6 weren't there?

      Commenter
      True Bomber
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 12:16PM

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Related Coverage

Essendon boss says  (Thumbnail) Essendon players 'safe' from doping fallout

Essendon chairman David Evans tells 3AW's Neil Mitchell, he has full confidence his players are clear, but is less forthcoming about coach James Hird.

What really was known remains the great unknown

Switkowski's report was a damning indictment and Essendon bled in full public view.

Dank explains silence, slamming AFL, ASADA

Sports scientist says complete lack of respect ruined chance of talking to AFL.

Chairman to give members a choice

David Evans has apologised for the mess in which Essendon finds itself.

If it's in the report, then it must be right, says 'Bomber' Thompson

Essendon senior assistant coach says report into club's governance last year ''pretty much spot on''.

Action and change will occur at Essendon - just not today

The full implications of the supplements scandal at Essendon will not be felt until the ASADA investigation is completed.

Evidence is on players' side: Evans

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MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
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STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
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HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
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GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
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COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
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CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
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SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
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BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
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HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
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Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
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STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
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BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
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CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
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RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
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MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
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COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
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NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
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CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
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ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
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WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
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Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
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ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
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Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
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COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
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ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
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NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
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MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
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GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
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BRI vs ADE 16:35G
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CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
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SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
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GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
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Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
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GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
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SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
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Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
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ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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