Tim Watson says Essendon will be punished
Speaking on SEN 1116, sports commentator Tim Watson says Essendon will lose points as a result of doping allegations against the football club.PT2M53S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2r98m 620 349 August 5, 2013
Essendon great Tim Watson says the public has been conditioned to the Bombers being stripped of premiership points – but the AFL maintains it's too early to declare any punishment.
Meanwhile, Essendon has angrily denied a suggestion from former Crows great Mark Ricciuto on Adelaide radio on Monday night that Bombers coach James Hird would be asked to resign by Thursday or someone might make the decision for him.
"The rumour is categorically incorrect, baseless and untrue," a Bombers spokesman said.
Essendon great Tim Watson. Photo: Joe Armao
Also on Monday night, Bombers senior assistant coach Mark Thompson admitted Sunday's loss to Collingwood was a sign the players had been finally overwhelmed by the toll the drug scandal had taken.
He also said he held fears for what could happen to the game in the near future if the matter was not resolved soon.
"We don't want anyone to go through this again. What is the next three years going to hold? It's going to be in and out of court, stakeholders fighting with each other," Thompson said on Fox Footy.
"Someone needs to grab this, grab this whole situation and position it and get people working together again and respecting one another. Because people are just going to drop off footy if this keeps going. If we just drag it through the courts the next couple years, people won't turn up."
While not wanting to use it as an excuse, Thompson said the players had a "big week" last week and had been "obviously distracted" by the knowledge that the interim report, detailing the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into the supplements saga at Windy Hill in 2011-12, had been completed.
"Our club was sort of fighting internally, and it was the first time the players had seen a bit of that," he said. "And to get the report handed down, these guys ... they were obviously distracted because their careers are on the line."
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon and Essendon executives and its legal team continue to dissect the interim document from ASADA of more than 400 pages. AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan remains hopeful that any decision on the Bombers arising from the report will be taken before the finals.
"We are keen to bring this to a head before the finals, but we have a process that has to play out," he said. "First things first is to make a decision whether any action needs to be taken." That process would include the AFL Commission. It's believed if a decision on whether the fifth-placed Bombers are to be stripped of any premiership points – and miss the finals – will have to be made within the next fortnight, as it has implications for Carlton, North Melbourne, West Coast and the Brisbane Lions, who could slip into the top eight.
Watson, the father of Essendon captain Jobe, said the AFL's intentions appeared clear. "The AFL operate as well, in fact even better, than a political party the way that they operate – the way that they leak out information," he said on SEN.
"They conditioned, I think, the general public a while ago to this whole idea that points were going to be taken away. I think they've already determined in their own minds, even before this report was handed down ... that would be the punishment that was actually afforded to Essendon." McLachlan refused to comment on Watson's claim. While the AFL could strip the Bombers of premiership points, the club could challenge this through the courts and seek an injunction, allowing them to play in the finals.
Essendon could also be hit with a large fine and lose draft picks, if it's found it has put the welfare of its players in jeopardy through its use of supplements.
The future of Hird also remains unclear, although he maintains he is confident of remaining as coach.
Thompson said any suggestion that Hird would stand down "won't happen".
"He won't stand down, I know that. And he shouldn't," he said.
While McLachlan has returned from a trip to the US, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou won't return until Wednesday.
McLachlan brushed off criticism of the decision, with some saying he should be back at head office as the Essendon drama unfolds. "He's speaking at an international conference on wagering, and the trip was tied around him being the keynote speaker," he said.
"I think it's criticism from the media. I'm not sure anyone in the public really cares, or our clubs. We've been awaiting the report. The report is finalised.
"He, like all of our commissioners, now has the report, and the plane ride back will give him plenty of time to read the report."