The immediate reaction to the bombshell that 34 Essendon players have received show cause notices from ASADA was one of shock and despair.
Everyone 'sick' of Essendon saga: AFL chief
The AFL's new chief executive Gillon McLachlan tells 3AW's Neil Mitchell he only became aware of the 34 show-cause notices to players last night when the news was made public.
Former Essendon star Matthew Lloyd said the players would be involved in another ‘‘year of turmoil’’.
‘‘The season’s over and another season has been ruined by this,’’ said Lloyd on 3AW.
Lloyd said he had ‘‘a sick feeling in the stomach’’ when he heard about the show-cause notices being issued.
‘‘My understanding is that today, they [the players] would’ve received phone calls individually from ASADA to let them know that a notice would be coming,’’ he said.
He also said the fact that injured skipper Jobe Watson wouldn’t be able to take the field would have big implications for the Dons.
‘‘The bloke that keeps [the players] going is the guy that’s out for the season in Jobe Watson,’’ he said.
‘‘Essendon [doesn’t] have the depth in the midfield or the leadership to cover [the loss of] someone like Jobe.’’
Essendon plays Melbourne this Sunday at the MCG, and Lloyd said he was unsure how the players would react during the game.
He drew on the example of Essendon’s performance last season, after the saga dragged on for much of the season. ‘‘Who knows what the effect [is] this weekend. Sometimes it can galvanise you for one week ... but you fall in a heap the next week.’’
‘‘I’m not sure how different each show-cause notice is to each individual ... it’s just now a matter of do some players get infractions.’’
ASADA show-cause notices for Dons
Essendon Football Club issued with 34 show-cause notices following a 16-month drugs probe by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. Nine News.
Tim Watson, Jobe’s father, said legal action was certain to follow.
‘‘The players, having received show-cause notices, are in shock,’’ said Watson on Channel Seven.
‘‘There is probably going to be some legal action launched by the Essendon Football Club ... what happens beyond that is anyone’s guess,’’ he said.
Watson said he had ‘‘no idea’’ how the players were going to put the notices behind them and play on the weekend.
Former Essendon player turned player manager Scott Lucas told radio SEN that the issuing of show cause notices could make it more difficult for stood-aside coach James Hird to return.
"Look, it’s really hard to comment because it’s allegedly, speculation ... but I think it is fair to say it would make it more difficult,’’ he said. ‘‘But at the same time it needs to be defended if that were to happen. I mean a show cause notice is a very early step in the process and there’s a long way to go before anything can be proven.
‘‘I think all along the club have been very strong in maintaining what they believe did occur and what ASADA will have to do to prove a case," Lucas said.
"Should it be the case ... then it’s a challenge for the club and they’ll face it and I’m sure they’ll defend their players vigorously through all avenues available."
He said player managers had been briefed on ASADA processes ‘‘two or three weeks ago’’ by the Players Association, adding: ‘‘so we’re aware of how they will unfold’’.
Fairfax Media reported last month that show cause notices had been expected in June.
NRL officials are also bracing for the 18-month saga to be finally bought to a head, with rumours rife in recent days that 17 members of Cronulla’s 2011 squad were set to receive show cause notices.