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Bombers are yet to face facts

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Hird allegedly told to steer clear of peptides

It's alleged Essendon Bombers coach James Hird was told by the AFL late last year to keep players away from using peptides.

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That Essendon coach James Hird has a different recollection of the 2011 meeting in which he was warned by the AFL to avoid peptides where his players were concerned, is not surprising.

Hird, whose example in embracing and pushing the risky drug program in which his loyal players were regularly injected with questionable substances, still has not come to grips with the perilous position in which he finds himself.

This is despite the fact that significant chunks of evidence gathered by ASADA and the AFL has not been kind to Hird. As the ASADA findings are put together in Canberra and the AFL Commission braces itself for one of its toughest decisions, just how the competition handles the fall from grace of perhaps its most beloved hero of the past two decades remains the most fascinating human dilemma of this sorry saga.

Hird hired the hard-line spin doctor Ian Hanke as his media adviser when it became clear he would require one. Hanke on Tuesday did not deny Hird had met the AFL in 2011 over peptides, but indicated, as the club did again on Wednesday, that it would be wrong to interpret the meeting in a negative way.

Hanke implied to Fairfax Media on Tuesday that when all the facts were revealed several commentators would be embarrassed and Hird would emerge unscathed. This is a familiar refrain, echoing that of Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg last year before the AFL banned him.

But it is understood Hird met AFL investigator Brett Clothier in late 2011 after it had come to the league's attention, via ASADA, that the coach was seeking information about certain peptides. Fairfax Media believes Clothier cautioned Hird more than once to stay away from peptides.

Clothier has refused to comment on the meeting, but multiple sources close to the joint investigation into Essendon have confirmed the meeting took place. They have also confirmed the context of the warning.

Meanwhile, it now appears

beyond doubt that at least one of Hird's offsiders, senior assistant Mark Thompson, had taken issue with the volume and regularity of the injecting program and cautioned against it, despite the support it received from Hird and football operations boss Danny Corcoran.

Just why Hird and his supporters believed the players required such heavy-handed and risky treatment and wanted to keep it secret has never been revealed.

What is also beyond doubt is the anti-obesity drug AOD-9604 is just one substance among several allegedly given to the players, and even if the Bombers can prove ASADA approved it, there remains the question of other drugs, such as the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4 and the alleged presence of the WADA-prohibited Hexarelin.

Equally certain is that Essendon has cast a pall over the integrity of the 2013 finals series. If the club contests the finals then its presence will be viewed by some as unsporting, and if it does not then the competition also will be tainted.

At some point the senior coach - despite the formidable team of yes men surrounding him - must take some responsibility for that. We remain convinced the AFL will ensure it.

171 comments

  • I am confused...

    James "nothing to see here" Hird stays put because he has "done nothing wrong" meanwhile former CEO Ian Robson gets the chop because he didn't know nothing was wrong !

    Bombers, please explain!

    Commenter
    Captain Grumpy
    Location
    Kingsville
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 8:09AM
    • As my name shows I don't hide my sporting elegances. My objection to this and many other articles, is not that you don't have a right to comment or that the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport is not wrong, I object to article after article putting the most negative interpretation on the issue as possible.

      I don't know who your 'sources' are, but it seems to me at the very least they have let you down badly. How is it that a while ago Mark Thompson was the senior assistant coach pulling the strings behind the scenes, to now being the one who has objected to the process? Which story is correct? How is it you did not know that ASDA advised Essendon that AOD was not banned as has been reported elsewhere? Or did you know and not report it? What other assertions you have made will in fact to be shown as wrong?

      I could go on, but I am sure you get the idea.

      Commenter
      bomberfan
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 10:32AM
    • If we all take the emotion out of this issue, it's very clear that Hird and Essendon were trying to gain an advantage on the rest of the competition by putting their players on a chemical regime that was administered by injection.

      Even the most die-hard Bomber fans should be upset by this fact alone. It's a disgrace.

      Commenter
      Bruceinessendon
      Location
      Essendon
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 11:14AM
    • For everyone's benefit, including yours Caroline, here is exactly what will play out:

      1. ASADA will finalise their review and due to technicalities, there will be no players banned or fined from using these substances.
      2. The public will realise that EFC, whilst possibly doing so in poor standards, actually tried to stay within the rules, but were misguidded by ASADA
      3. The AFL wont be able to punch EFC for AOD etc, but will slap on the old 'disrepute' it loves to use, and do an almighty whack of i'm guessing between 1 and 2 million dollars.
      4. Part of this fine the AFL will feed directly through to ASADA.
      5. EFC will play finals this year, but likely the flag will go to geel, haw or syd anyway
      6. Caroline find another way to attack EFC (as this is an ongoing thing for those who think this is something new).
      7. We might actually speak about football for a change.

      Commenter
      nostradamus
      Location
      heaven
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 11:25AM
    • Whatever way you look at this Essendon has brought the game into disrepute. I can remember a few years back how a player brought the game into disrepute and how the AFL were very quick to impose sanctions and suspensions. It seems to me if you are one of the "Big" clubs in Victoria you can do anything you like and come out smelling like roses.
      I think it about time that the AFL realise that this is a NATIONAL competition and as such all teams are equal and should be treated as such.
      Fans are what makes this game a success and the AFL should show strong leadership and stop treating them like idiots.

      Commenter
      Marie
      Location
      WA
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 11:39AM
    • Hey Bomberfan,

      Maybe the question you should be focusing on is not negative reporting of the events but why was an intelligent, elite sportsman like Jobe Watson acquiescing to taking an anti-obesity drug amid other supplements in the first place? Do you suggest he sat there like a battery hen and merely accepted that he was going to be injected. Was he just following orders?

      I'm sure the Sam Mitchell would have liked the same advantages Watson and his cohorts had last year. Perhaps he would have a well deserved browlow medal too by now? The 2012 medal will always be tarnished unfortunately.

      Commenter
      TED
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 12:16PM
    • It will not make any difference if ASADA clear them or not WADA has it as banned and can override A all and ban them from the competition as they did in Korea regardless of the legalities
      The issue here would you put your children on an injecting banned not for human consumption Supplement Programme get them to sign a piece of paper and see if they have a future in sport or health it may be detrimental to their bodies hence being on the banned list.
      It brought the game into disrepute, tainted the image of the game and for what?
      Essendon went to the AFL last November cause the journalists were going to publish this Why did they go if the Supp a programme was legal? why did they go? Why did they just say its legal no problem we are fine they didn't cause they knew they had overstepped the line.
      WADA will decide not ASADA nor the AFL so attacking Journalsts is pointless you should be asking to be kept in the loop the AFL would have kept it hush hush the fans have a right to know

      Commenter
      irenepd
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 2:29PM
  • I get that your job relies on selling advertising and that bad news sells more than good - irrespective of the truth but Caro you take your information twisting campaign too far. Your innuendo and speculation irrespective of facts is shameful to see in the AGE. Why you still have a job there is probably the biggest question to emerge. If the ASADA investigations (which shouldn't be reported on until they are completed) don't prove that Essendon players took banned substances will you resign? Your position would be untenable otherwise.

    Commenter
    Integrity
    Location
    Media World
    Date and time
    July 18, 2013, 8:11AM
    • Melbourne were found not guilty of tanking, did she resign then?

      Commenter
      Marcus
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 9:01AM
    • Its a bit different. The investigation showed that Melbourne HAD tanked. They just negotiated an outcome that said they didn't.

      Commenter
      ralf
      Date and time
      July 18, 2013, 9:20AM

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