Legal issue: Dean Robinson. Photo: Getty Images
Essendon have defended their contrasting treatment of Dean Robinson and James Hird, declaring responsibility for the club's supplements program lay chiefly with high performance boss Robinson rather than the senior coach.
The Bombers claimed Hird and his fellow coaches did not have the expertise to ensure supplements provided to players were safe and that they complied with the AFL's anti-doping code, in documents lodged in the Supreme Court.
The club is defending a breach of contract claim by Robinson, who was suspended on the day Essendon reported itself to the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in February. Robinson, who believes he was made a scapegoat for the supplements program and the subsequent fallout, is seeking compensation that could exceed $2 million, with a directions hearing to take place on Monday.
In response to a writ filed by lawyers for Robinson in October, Essendon have claimed their former fitness boss failed to put in place an ''adequate process'' to ensure substances administered to players in 2011 and 2012 did not contravene the anti-doping code, were World Anti-Doping Agency-approved and would not harm the health and safety of their players.
The club also claims Robinson failed to control the spending of his high performance unit, that the coaches had lost confidence in him by the end of the 2012 season and that he was responsible for the club's spectacular soft-tissue injury toll throughout that year.
As leader of the high performance unit, Robinson had ''direct responsibility'' for the conduct of Stephen Dank, argue Essendon. The club says as the ''primary source'' of supplements knowledge at the club, it was his job to ensure the program was safe and legal.
While the club disputes Robinson has suffered any loss or damage, it says any such damage would need to be offset by the large fee he was paid to participate in a Channel Seven interview.
Claims Robinson failed to control his department's budget are accompanied by a list of invoices received by the club between November 2011 and October 2012, from Como Compounding Pharmacy and the HyperMed and Skinovate clinics, where Essendon players were treated.
The 27-page document also details the club's enormous injury toll last year, stating Robinson's performance as boss of the ''physical preparation unit'' was based on the team's rate of soft-tissue injuries, and its success. The club claims players missed a total of 258 games due to soft-tissue injuries throughout the season, compared with a 10-year average of 191.
Essendon claim Robinson was given a written warning in August 2011, after a counselling session.