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ASADA behaviour 'insulting' to Essendon players

Brendon Goddard has labelled the six-month reduced offer to his team mates for accepting they took banned substances without their knowledge as "insulting".

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Essendon coach Mark Thompson says his players are handling the latest developments in the supplements saga with something of a "grieving" mentality, as the Bombers attempt to focus on Saturday night's clash with Adelaide.

There are about 20 players on the current list dealing with the uncertainty of being issued with show cause notices by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Brendon Goddard, who was not at the club at the time of its injections program, has claimed ASADA's comments since the notices were issued have been insulting, with the anti-doping authority offering players the chance to come forward in a bid to claim a reduced six-month penalty. The players are of the belief they have done nothing wrong. 

Mark Thompson.

Mark Thompson. Photo: Pat Scala

Amid the whirlwind of legal action launched by the club and suspended coach James Hird in the Federal Court, and players having until July 11 to respond to allegations of banned drug use, Thompson has had to find a way for his players to focus on their on-field performance.

Thompson said he had attempted to bring a more jovial feel to training as his players dealt with a range of emotions.

"You go through all different phases, it's like grieving," Thompson said on Friday. 

"In the end you just don't want to become mentally exhausted out of the whole process, which is our danger.

"At times you get angry and get on that phase where you want to fight and vent, but I think some guys have been there and come out of it, and some players might still be in there."

Thompson said he did not regret replacing Hird as the caretaker coach while Hird served a 12-month AFL-imposed ban for the club's poor governance during its 2011-12 supplements program. Thompson had been Hird's senior assistant and had attempted to have the injecting program stopped.

"I'm glad I did it. I sort of knew it was going to come at some stage, that it wouldn't be a year free of drama but I think I'm probably better positioned to do it than most other people because I know where I'm at," he said.

The Bombers sit just one game outside of the top eight but the ASADA investigation threatens to derail their season, just as did late last year when the players struggled to retain their on-field focus.

Thompson said he was "optimistic" the Bombers, without injured skipper Jobe Watson, could regain their best form.

"I know we still have the capacity to play well – it's probably a little bit out of our hands," he said.

"If things happen, you've just got to take what comes. If the best case scenario happens and we free the players up of any of their stuff, then I think that we're more than capable of playing good footy."

The Bombers have lost Jake Carlisle (knee) for the clash against the Crows at Etihad Stadium while Paul Chapman has been rested.

Goddard made his feelings clear on The Footy Show about ASADA's handling of events since show cause notices were distributed.

"I try to stay across all things as do all players that aren't involved, to help support and to be there for the players and the footy club," he said.

"What's disappointing is getting an early guilty plea (offer). A guilty plea for what? The boys are adamant they've done nothing wrong. So is the footy club.

"The club only encouraged the guys to be honest and upfront and I think they've gone through this with great integrity.

"For him [ASADA chief Ben McDevitt] to throw comments out like that were really insulting."

ASADA's case against the players appears to focus on the banned Thymosin beta 4. McDevitt says players can come forward and admit they were duped into being injected. Provided they are also prepared to help the investigation, he says they could receive a 75 per cent reduction of a maximum two-year ban.