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Essendon probe 'potentially the biggest football story of all time'

How big could the Essendon drugs probebe? Jon Pierik and Greg Baum dissect what could potentially be "the biggest football story of all time".

PT3M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dy0b 620 349

SENIOR Essendon players demanded assurances from their coaching and medical staff before being administered the controversial substances at the centre of a performance-enhancing drug investigation.

While it has been confirmed that Essendon medical staff, including veteran club doctor Bruce Reid, raised questions regarding the controversial supplements, the Essendon players have acknowledged they signed consent forms which stated the substance administered was acceptable under the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority code.

The assurances were sought by the leadership group, notably David Hille and skipper Jobe Watson. A specially convened meeting of senior Bombers players and the AFL Players Association on Wednesday heard that the forms were signed in the presence of Essendon senior coaches, doctors and the fitness staff.

Training hard: Essendon players go through their paces on Wednesday.

Under the microscope, for all the wrong reasons: Essendon players at training at Tullamarine on Wednesday. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Senior coach James Hird, who on Wednesday voiced his support for suspended sports scientist Dean Robinson, witnessed the forms being handed out and signed. The players also signed a separate confidentiality agreement after being told the club did not want its controversial practices being leaked to the opposition.

The move by the Bombers, which took place on the eve of the 2012 season, has been condemned by AFLPA chief Matt Finnis, whose association has engaged the services of a Queen's Counsel and advised the past and present Essendon players involved to seek advice before giving evidence to ASADA.

''The players were doing what they were told,'' said Finnis. ''If that trust was knowingly breached, then I can't think of a worse example of a breach of trust in any employment relationship.

''Obviously it's important to clarify whether they were given banned substances or not. Either way the fact they were asked to sign consent forms and given supplements away from the presence of a doctor is well below the acceptable standards of a professional football club.''

The AFLPA's view is that no club should demand confidentiality agreements given the demands already put in place by the standard playing contracts signed by all players. Virtually every senior Essendon player signed the agreements.

The club also confirmed that the players were taken from Windy Hill to a nearby botox clinic to be injected with the supplements.

The club has reportedly explained that the clinic was used only because the treatment required a registered nurse.

The AFL remains convinced that chairman David Evans had no knowledge of any questionable practices while coach Hird and chief executive Ian Robson remained adamant that the substances administered did not contain human growth hormone.