JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Supplement crisis: Bombers set to miss finals

Date

Caroline Wilson and Jake Niall

EXCLUSIVE

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Hird avoids media after training session

Mystery after James Hird was replaced at short notice by assistant coach Simon Goodwin at a press conference expected to be fronted by the Essendon coach.

PT0M0S 620 349

Essendon looks certain to be dumped from the finals as negotiations with the AFL moving swiftly towards a resolution of the drug crisis.

Essendon, desperate to cling to draft picks, has adopted a ''clean slate'' approach under which it would accept a punishment that does not impact greatly on its future.

But the AFL is adamant that draft picks must be part of any punishment for the sake of the game's integrity. It is still seeking to remove this year's first and second-round picks, and the same in 2014.

A suspension for James Hird is still on the table.

A suspension for James Hird is still on the table. Photo: Pat Scala

A suspension for coach James Hird was also assured, with the AFL wanting a 12-month penalty. Essendon's stance on the coach - a sticking point earlier in the week when Essendon rejected a settlement offer - was secondary to the issue of preserving draft picks and ensuring the club was not severely impaired next year and beyond.

Late on Friday, Essendon chairman Paul Little said the Bombers wanted to bring matters to a conclusion quickly.

''The ongoing controversy is harmful to our players and their families, our officials, the club, other AFL clubs and the AFL itself,'' he said in a statement.

A Bombers fan show her support for the embattled coach.

A Bombers fan show her support for the embattled coach. Photo: Getty Images

He apologised for the club's mistakes. ''We have made mistakes in terms of governance and people management, and we apologise for them. We also accept there will be AFL sanctions as a consequence … but the evidence does not extend to drug cheating, and we're working to ensure that the charges and ultimate penalties reflect this.''

While talks remained delicately poised late on Friday, Hird's position appeared increasingly difficult, with Little prepared to prioritise the club over the coach. Hird had been determined not to serve a suspension longer than six months.

Assistant coach Mark Thompson is set to escape suspension and receive only a fine, but football operations manager Danny Corcoran is also likely to be suspended. The position of the other individual facing charges, Dr Bruce Reid, was unclear.

Essendon coach James Hird at training on Friday.

Essendon coach James Hird at training on Friday. Photo: Pat Scala

Hird was expected to coach against Carlton, but with the AFL Commission due to hear the Essendon case early next week, his future beyond that was unclear.

But, as Fairfax Media reported earlier this week, the club has given ground considerably on the issue of premiership points - agreeing to sacrifice those - meaning there is little chance the club will play finals in a fortnight, opening the way for Carlton and possibly even North Melbourne.

Little and AFL executive Gillon McLachlan were in lengthy talks - an indication of the pragmatic line of both parties despite the conflict and legal threats and legal action taken by Hird against the AFL and of the backing the AFL regime received from the 17 other clubs that are tired of the damaging saga.

The club had been offered a fine of more than $2.5 million in talks on Tuesday, but the extent of the fine was among the details still being hammered out.

Club presidents who met on Thursday said clubs needed to know Essendon's fate by next week to ensure that the team in ninth place was prepared for the finals.

The negotiated potential penalties against Essendon, as reported exclusively by Fairfax Media on Wednesday night, would be unprecedented. No team in the AFL has been stripped of premiership points.

Little, who did not attend Thursday's meeting at AFL headquarters but took part via a phone hook-up, was made aware of the damage being inflicted on the game and on all clubs.

Several clubs remained hopeful that a settlement would be reached as soon as Friday but more likely by early next week with the commission still preparing to meet Essendon on Monday and reach a conclusion.

The prevailing view of rival clubs was that Essendon, despite the unprecedented nature of the AFL punishment, would be escaping relatively lightly.

The clubs also unofficially canvassed the prospect of league chief and commissioner Andrew Demetriou removing himself from Monday's hearing in the interests of settling the crisis.

270 comments

  • So much for James Hird and his much vaunted legal challenge.And well done to Caroline Wilson for some great reporting on the whole affair.Ms Wilson's accounts of this whole tawdry and seld-destructive affair have been vindicated.Essendon should never have dumped Kevin Sheedy in the shabby manner the club did.Its cynical pursuit of short term success has been shown for what it is and was.If ever there was a club that well and truly lost the plot its Essendon.

    Commenter
    Jimmy of Shelley
    Date and time
    August 23, 2013, 6:21PM
    • You're kidding. Sheeds is a legend at the club who delivered four premierships and his legacy is safe there forever. He was coach for 27 years. Yes 27 years. Which other coach last more than ten? It's hardly fair to suggest that he was hard done by the club. As for Caroline 'Pitbull' Wilson, she is a good journalist but of late has turned into a purveyor of fear and innuendo. She won't rest until Hird is gone and the club humiliated and this should NEVER be forgotten by the Essendon Football Club and its members and supporters.

      Commenter
      Brendan
      Location
      Forest Hill
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 6:54PM
    • Is that you Caro????

      Commenter
      Andy
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 7:16PM
    • Systematic drug abuse over a long period of time. Absolute confirmation only denied by lack of records and an effective omertà. What would the punishments be in other major codes?. What about the sport we love to mock - soccer. Juventus and Rangers as big and famous as any AFL club were relegated to lower divisions as well as massive financial penalties. How will we compare?
      Any so called punishment this year is just so called - the seasons finished for Essendon anyway. A couple of draft picks and a suspension for Hird. Scary.

      Commenter
      Andy
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 7:30PM
    • Well said Jimmy
      I'm wondering where are all the apologies from the spiteful fans who kept saying CW was wrong? Too busy wiping egg of their faces I guess. The only Essendon coach who has come out of this looking good is Matty Knights.Now that's Natural Justice at work!

      Commenter
      Realist
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 7:43PM
    • Agreed! Caroline Wilson has been fantastic.

      Commenter
      Jamboree
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 8:04PM
    • Caroline Wilson has retained an unemotional reporting approach. Her only passion when expressed seems to be truth and the welfare of the players. It has been astonishing to see no one at the club speak up for them until recently. Anyone who has ever functioned in a group bound by a bond like footy knows that there will be ones who want to stand apart but are afraid - it would be good to see the leadership group stand up and lead. Why are the signs at the grounds all in support of Hird? This is an unhealthy approach. Look at this workplace and ask- was it safe? Can it be safe until those who have responsibility for it acknowledge that there need to be massive changes. A culture that revolves around one man is fraught with danger - as Essendon exemplifies. Well done Caroline for your tenacity and persistence. I suspect some of these men are not used to having to account for themselves using something more than platitudes.

      Commenter
      It's our game
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 8:14PM
    • Carloine Wilson has been brilliant and courageous in all of this. Her sources are good but her holding the strain of pressure for the greater good is the most impressive part. Truly inspirational work Caro.

      Commenter
      Fuschia
      Location
      Edenhope
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 8:17PM
    • +1 Jimmy. Well said.

      Commenter
      Me too
      Date and time
      August 23, 2013, 10:43PM
    • So it's heading towards Essendon pleading guilty to incompetence and negligence, and avoiding the more serious charges of systematic doping and (even more seriously) deliberately covering it up. The other clubs are right. They will be getting off very lightly indeed. It will be the club's reward for closing ranks tighter than a mafia family.

      But the ASADA investigation is on going and they have not yet used their new powers to compel Steven Dank to be interviewed. I wonder what will happen if ASADA uncover new evidence? Does the AFL get to review its' decision on penalties?

      Commenter
      Hanging Chad
      Date and time
      August 24, 2013, 12:33AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Hird avoids the media after training session (Thumbnail) Hird avoids media after training session

Mystery after James Hird was replaced at short notice by assistant coach Simon Goodwin at a press conference expected to be fronted by the Essendon coach.

The science of Stephen Dank

In April, Nick McKenzie conducted an on-the-record interview with Stephen Dank.

Dons simply amazing... for 16 games

To have been able to perform at the level they did is extraordinary.

Essendon's open letter from the chairman

Paul Little: At yesterday's meeting of AFL Club Chairmen and Presidents, I stressed we wanted matters resolved … but also that matters need to be concluded in a fair manner with charges and penalties that reflect the club's actual failings and the evidence.

Clubs had to stand with AFL: McGuire

Collingwood president denies the 17 other clubs ganged up on Essendon.

James Hird 'very concerned' over emotional interview with player's mother

Essendon coach James Hird said it had been "very concerning" to listen to an emotional radio interview with an anonymous mother of one of his players where she relayed her fears about the impact the club's supplement scandal was having on her son and family.

AFLPA concerned for players' health

AFL Players Association chief Matt Finnis says Essendon players would require long-term monitoring of their health after growing uncertainty about the impact the Bombers' controversial supplement injection program may have on their lives.

Demetriou: there was no tip-off

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has again insisted he could not have tipped Essendon off that they were under a crime investigation.

Hirdy neighbour: Toorak home to AFL scandal

Essendon's supplements crisis has gripped Melbourne and set some of the city's highest-profile individuals on a collision course, but the men at the heart of the battle have more than football in common - they also have geography.

Bombers stand united and desperate for win

Essendon adamant playing group can end month of on-field misery against fierce rival Carlton.

Families look to the AFLPA

Essendon footballers families increasingly turning to Players Association for guidance.

Calm in a crisis, and ready for the fight

Listen to his mates, and they'll tell you Paul Little is the right man for a fight.

Keep your sunny side up, up

Many have been severely jolted by the fallout from the Essendon supplements scandal.

Emotional radio interview very concerning, says Dons coach

Essendon coach says welfare of his players was of the utmost importance.

Supplement saga: Eagles would have moved sooner on coach, says CEO

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett says the Eagles would have already asked their coach to step aside had the club faced the same predicament currently plaguing Essendon and their coach James Hird.

Related Coverage

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE ($2.75)vs ADE ($1.42) 13:05SS
BRI ($5.00)vs WBU ($1.15) 13:45G
PTA ($1.22)vs FRE ($4.00) 15:50Adelaide Oval
HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($15.00) 16:40MCG
SYD ($1.05)vs GCF ($8.50) 19:20SCG
WCE ($1.05)vs STK ($8.50) 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GWS 13:10ES
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
View all
 

Follow Us on Facebook

Featured advertisers