Sorry Saga - “It’s actually quite funny people thinking they know more than they actually do”


Allan Hird sent a letter to Mr Greg Hunt, Minister for Sport on 5 December 2017

DEC 7, 2017 — It reads:

Dear Minister

In the attached brief Essendon Football Club MS17-000325 of 23 February 2017 to you, the Deputy Secretary, National Program Delivery of the Department of Health in paragraphs 2 and 5 stated:

“Consistent with Australia’s anti-doping legislation, the Department was not party to the original ASADA investigation.” (2)
“…the Department has had no direct role in the Essendon investigation …” (5)

Those statements are untrue. Let me explain.

When the original ASADA investigation occurred in 2013, Sport was the responsibility of the then Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. On 23 February 2017, and as it is now, Sport was the responsibility of the Department of Health. Thus, when the Deputy Secretary, National Program Delivery stated ‘the Department was not party to the original ASADA investigation’, the ‘Department’ to which he or she was referring must have been the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport (RALGAS).

At the time of the original ASADA investigation the senior public servant responsible for Sport in RALGAS was its Deputy Secretary, Richard Eccles. Richard Eccles, along with his then Minister Kate Lundy were indeed not just a party to the original ASADA investigation but they drove it.

One just has to google Richard Eccles and ASADA or Richard Eccles and Essendon to find numerous articles which support the claim that the Commonwealth Department with responsibility for Sport was a party and a significant one to the original ASADA investigation.

If further evidence is required I invite you to go the testimony of the then CEO of ASADA Aurora Andruska in the the Federal Court case between the Essendon Football Club, James Hird and ASADA (VID 327 of 2014 & VID 328 of 2014):

The following quote from the transcript, and contrary to your department’s advice, illustrates perfectly the direct involvement of Kate Lundy and Richard Eccles in the original ASADA investigation:

•Mr Young: Ms Andruska, you’ve made a note that the Minister Lundy needs something, and your note says;
Deal with AFL. Support staff sacked. Points off. Players-
•Ms Andruska, in your affidavit you refer to attending a meeting in Canberra on 11 January 2013?—Yes.
•MR YOUNG: Yes. Now, that was a meeting with the Australian Crime Commission, was it not?—Yes.
•And also in attendance was a Mr Richard Eccles from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government for the Arts and Sport?—Yes.
•Yes. Now, Mr Eccles is someone who had a persisting involvement in relation to the investigation that unfolded, was he not?—Yes.

And if that is not convincing enough for you fast forward to August 2013 when Richard Eccles deliberately intervened in the ASADA investigation as this article in the Australian demonstrates:

Let me quote a piece from it:

“Eccles rang, said he had just received a call from Gillon,’’ Ms Andruska said. “What do you think you are doing? I have just had a call from the AFL and it is going to cost them $20,000 in legal fees to respond to your letter you have just sent. It is taking time away from James Hird.’’

So here we have at the bookends of the original ASADA investigation, January and August 2013, the senior Sport bureaucrat’s finger prints all over it.

Minister, you would have to admit that in brief MS17-000325 your department has not been accurate to put it mildly. How then can you rely on its advice, more generally, in the Essendon matter? Whether it is a perception, or the reality, the stench of a departmental cover up now surrounds the Department of Health.

I urged you earlier in the year to seek advice independent of the Department in the Essendon matter. Now that we now have evidence the Department’s advice is faulty I again urge you to institute an independent investigation.

Yours sincerely

Allan Hird

Essendon Football Club MS17-000325 of 23 February 2017:


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For those unable to get through the paywall, here is the Australian article by Chip LeGrand dated 20 June 2015 which backs up Allan Hrds letter to Greg Hunt:

Sports Anti-Doping Authority ‘told to back off’ AFL
CHIP LE GRANDThe Australian12:00AM June 20, 2015

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority former chief Aurora Andruska says she was pressured by the federal government to back away from a high-stakes legal confrontation with the AFL because it was distracting the league from its pursuit of Essendon coach James Hird.

In her first interview since leaving ASADA at the height of the Essendon and Cronulla drugs scandal, Ms Andruska reveals that in the lead-up to an AFL Commission hearing to determine Essendon and Hird’s fate, she considered taking out a ­Federal Court injunction against the AFL.

In August 2013, a bitter dispute emerged between the AFL and ASADA over the league’s plans to use confidential information ­obtained as part of an anti-doping investigation to take disciplinary action against Essendon and senior club officials.

Ms Andruska says that amid a tense exchange of legal letters she received a phone call from Richard Eccles, the federal government’s most senior bureaucrat in charge of sport. According to Ms Andruska, Mr Eccles told her he had just spoken to Gillon McLachlan, the AFL’s then deputy chief executive.

“Eccles rang, said he had just received a call from Gillon,’’ Ms Andruska said. “What do you think you are doing? I have just had a call from the AFL and it is going to cost them $20,000 in legal fees to respond to your letter you have just sent. It is taking time away from James Hird.’’

Ms Andruska says she was ­astounded by the comment, which followed months of ASADA feeling pressured by the federal government and the AFL to bring an investigation into ­suspected doping at Essendon to an end. “I couldn’t believe what I’m hearing,’’ she said. “I’m thinking, ‘what do you think your role in this is?’’’

Ms Andruska’s revelations are contained in The Straight Dope, an inside account of the Essendon and Cronulla doping scandal published this week by Melbourne University Press.

Mr Eccles, now a deputy secretary within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, was unable to respond to questions from the author.

His boss at the time, former sports minister Kate Lundy, described the experienced public servant as a “phenomenal bureaucrat’’ who acted for the interests of the government at all times. Other senior public servants contacted by the author spoke highly of Mr Eccles.

Mr McLachlan could not ­recall the conversation with Mr Eccles. Ms Lundy denied that ­either the AFL or federal government placed undue pressure on ASADA.

“They (The AFL) were doing their utmost to develop a solution with ASADA and it is clear Mr Eccles was involved in that but I don’t think that constitutes political pressure,’’ she said.

In the first six months of the drugs scandal, ASADA and the AFL worked as investigative partners to determine whether banned peptides had been used by Essendon players.

This arrangement — which has since been declared lawful by the Federal Court — dissolved ­acrimoniously when the AFL sought to use sensitive information obtained during investigation to dump Essendon from the 2013 finals series and suspend Hird from coaching. Mr Eccles, as a departmental deputy secretary responsible for sport who had ­developed a good working relationship with Mr McLachlan, was the key point of contact between Senator Lundy’s office, ASADA and the AFL.

Ms Andruska says soon after the “blackest day in Australian sport”, the day on which government ministers, ASADA and sports chiefs gathered in Can­berra to reveal the findings of an Australian Crime Commission report into the links between organised crime and sport, it was apparent that the federal government and the AFL wanted the scandal to go away.

“The press conference ­occurred and then everyone wanted it over,’’ she said. “They wanted it off the page, but the genie was out of the bottle.’’

Ms Andruska says she realised at a June 2013 meeting with Mr McLachlan, Essendon president David Evans and Mr Eccles that the objectives of ASADA and the AFL were potentially in conflict.

“Their objectives and ASADA’s objectives are almost at odds with each other. They are about protecting their business, protecting their brand.

“We are about making sure that Australia complies with its legal obligations.’’

Despite these reservations, ASADA in August 2013 provided the AFL with a 433-page report summarising evidence gathered over the first six months of the ­investigation.


Here are Andrews comments on the above article:

The whole announcement was a political stunt to get publicity for the Gillard government. 2 Ministers no less attended to get profile. Ex footballers who make most of all the media commentators are the worst as they do not want to ask hard questions of the AFL including the past and current CEO for fear of losing their access. One big boys club.

Andrew JUN 20, 2015
Its about time the general public woke up to the frame up job placed upon Essendon and James Hird in particular. Everyday more and more evidence supports this yet those blinded by irrational hate and an agenda driven AFL accredited media wont wake up. No evidence of doping yet plenty of evidence of AFL and Government dodgy dealings.



Who is Andrews?


Ha ha, … I initially thought that too. It’s not Andrews, … but Andrew’s,… as in some dude called Andrew that just happened to make 2 very succinct and dead on comments about each of the major issues.


Not really. He did have PED’s in his hotel room, they just couldn’t prove they were his because other people had access to the room and no-one could definitively say they were his.


Standard of proof - more than mere probability- correctly applied. And burden of proof correctly assigned to the sporting federation alleging that it was more than probable that he was using a WADA banned substance,going beyond suspicions to the contrary.


Absolutely, but in this case, there was physical evidence, they just couldn’t attribute it.


I was hoping legally minded Blitzers might cast their eye over an email I’m about to send to the minister to check it for factual errors before I do.

Dear Minister,

The recent revelations from the documents obtained through FOI relating to Departmental advice you received earlier in the year are deeply disturbing. Partly because they reveal the superficial manner in which senior public servants have dealt with this matter, but also because they leave the matter open to the suspicion that there is STILL a conscious and ongoing resistance to properly investigate the entire matter - in other words, a cover up.

The response contained in MS 17-000325 essentially parrots a narrative that has predominated in the mainstream media over the past three years (A MSM heavily influenced by the AFL and it’s accredited reporters) that the ASADA investigation has been exhaustively reviewed by the Federal Courts and that therefore, there is nothing else to investigate. This is rubbish. The Federal Court cases had a very narrow focus on the statutory validity of the joint-investigation conducted by ASADA and the AFL and whether ASADA was legally permitted to provide the (undeniably conflicted) AFL with the interim report. It’s worth noting that the AFL was not even a party to the proceedings, so whilst the cases revealed a wealth of evidence (through both discovery and sworn testimony) of failures of procedural fairness and corrupt behaviour on the part of both ASADA (a supposed model litigant) and the AFL, it was not possible for that particular case to arrive at a judgement on many of those matters.

If you are genuinely committed to the principles of transparency and natural justice within our national institutions, you must do whatever you can to facilitate an independent investigation (preferably a judicial enquiry) of these matters. Anything else will be a continuation of the cover up. You can choose how the history books will regard your role in the biggest scandal in the history of Australian Sport, because eventually, the real facts of the matter will surface. They almost always do.

Yours sincerely,



Is it possible to give one or two examples to support this:

'so whilst the cases revealed a wealth of evidence (through both discovery and sworn testimony) of failures of procedural fairness and corrupt behaviour on the part of both ASADA (a supposed model litigant) and the AFL, it was not possible for that particular case to arrive at a judgement on many of those matters.’

That would strengthen your case and make it harder for for Hunt to dismiss.


Everyone on this site should read up on Victor Conte of Balco fame as any mention of the case riles me intensely and brings back my detest of John Fahey. Suggest if you haven’t read them start with a 4 part series written in the Japan Times some years ago. I also have no trust in anything WADA says or does.


Bennals: Well done. Some long winded comment:
Without wishing to cover the waterfront of ASADA sins, I suggest that , from a public policy perspective, you include a reference to certain specific substantive matters that the Health officials failed to draw to Hunt’s attentionn
IMO these could include the claims made by the Players counsel on ASADA doctoring of evidence ( you could quote from those paras in the CAS report ); together with ASADA’s severe misjudgment in agreeing to a joint investigation with the AFL. The AFL abused its investigative powers under its anti-doping Code to charge Essendon staff with bringing the game into disrepute ( distinct from accusations of contravening the doping provisions) . But for ASADA’s agreement, the AFL would not have been able to collect such information. Also by sharing highly confidential evidence with the AFL, ASADA failed to observe its statutory obligations in that regard, .It is alarming that a statutory body should act in that way. It is even more alarming that your officials have not brought these matters to your attention.
ASADA actions were a failure of public policy. The omissions in the briefings by your officials are also a public policy failure.
From a more legal perspective I would avoid using wording like corrupt .
From a strategic perspective, I would avoid directly blaming Hunt and pushing him to the defensive, rather, hit on the Health officials for their dereliction of duty.


Stabby: I note that Dastyari is being referred to the Senate Privileges Committee . What is the bet that all documents will enter the public arena, yet MCDevitt documents are not permittef to see the light of day.? Are public servants to be afforded greater protection than our elected representatives?


Yes Fahey, the puppet master.


Good on you Bennals.


Hmmm…a quick search of Senate Privileges Committee activity indicates they rarely pull anybody up for misleading or false statements.

…but I did find this video of a successful appeal to Senate Privileges Committee:


Going by Hunt’s reaction, he seems to see himself - the portfolio Minister- - as captive to his officials. That’s not the way it is supposed to work


Thanks for the feedback. I’ll amend accordingly.


Bennals: you have my golden pen award and really appreciate what are doing.


I agree!

More of us should also write in to support this case.