Essendon chairman 'deeply sorry'
David Evans responds to Dr Ziggy Switkowski's report into the club's controversial supplements program, apologising for what happened on his 'watch'.PT2M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2j2vl 620 349 May 6, 2013
Essendon bled in full public view on Monday, in a way that the no device or concoction of a sports scientist could have staunched, and foreshadowed more blood-letting yet, and still a sense endured that not all the poison will be leached, because in a football club, blood is thicker than any cleansing agent.
Ziggy Switkowski's report was a damning indictment of the cavalier way the Bombers mismanaged their novel supplements program, which he concluded, by its inherently risky nature, had no place at any football club. Not only was it not a good idea at the time, it never will be.
In response, on the club's behalf, president David Evans was full of self-reproach and contrition. He would not guarantee anyone's job, not even that of his friend and club legend and coach James Hird.
James Hird on Monday. Photo: James Whitelock
Rather, Evans implied that heads would roll. He put his own on the block, to be guillotined or spared at the members' pleasure in November, two years sooner than obliged.
Switkowski's report was circumscribed by the fact neither Dean Robinson nor Stephen Danks were interviewed, also by the fact that the AFL and ASADA are conducting their own investigation. Nonetheless, even in its redacted public form, it was unsparing and, between the lines, still posed disturbing questions. A modern football club is exponentially bigger and more sophisticated than its counterpart 20 years ago, notes Switkowski. But it is scarcely Coles Myer or BHP Billiton.
It is intimate and self-contained, and its people are vitally interested in one another's business as all dwell on that weekly on-field audit that defines them. Little can be on a need-to-know basis, because everyone knows, more or less.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg
This is especially true of Essendon, with all that family and lineage and embrace of its own. Office girl, board member, Bomber clan: it was there for all to see, even on Monday.
Football is everyone's business in this town, so what someone knows, soon enough gets out. From mid-last year, fragments of information were reaching media outlets. Bit by bit, it strengthened.
It is improbable so many outside the club gained an inkling of irregular practices, and so few within. Switkowski, in his report, describes the new high performance staff as ''confident and opinionated''. Plainly, they did not hide their light under a bushel.
As the Bombers swept all before them early last season and the club got back its strut, it is hard to believe the work of the men in figurative lab coats did not bob up at the water cooler, or even in the theatrette. Yet somehow, no alarm bell rang.
Switkowski's report focuses exclusively on the lack or failure of official channels. But did all the other lines and conduits that lubricate a football club also run dry?
Much is being made of a letter club doctor Bruce Reid allegedly wrote to the board outlining his concerns, and which mysteriously failed to reach its destination.
Reid is Essendon to his shoelaces. He was at the club when Evans' father, the late Ron, was president, and is Hird's family GP. He loves the place and its people. Did he give expression to his misgivings only in one now vanished letter? Did everyone bite their tongue?
The Switkowski report concentrates intently on what Bomber command did not know and should have. But it is mute on the question of what key people might have closed their ears and minds to, at best because they were caught up in the excitement, at worst wilfully.
As Essendon continues to lick its wounds, it still has to ask itself questions about the questions it did not ask.