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


No probs if you want to be a gloomier, but putting people down for participating in this thread is not on.


That was in response in to the open canvass someone painted for me and in no way a reflection of my thoughts to the majority of supporters and the Essendon family.

something Gil, something bits provoked a nasty response


And, what exactly did they do while at Geelong during their premiership years.


He’s there in case there’s a bull run on the stock market. Being a former rodeo clown he knows what to do.


“I would like to know why NO journalist asked or investigated why the AFL cleared Dean Robinson and Stephen Dank to work at the Essendon Football Club, knowing full well, they had dabbled in supplements banned by WADA while working at the Gold Coast Suns?”

This, this is the question




It’s absolutely crazy that nothing has come of Bock…didn’t asada re-open their investigation into him in 2016 ?? And nothing said since



I’d be keen to know chips thoughts on why little and hird came out all guns blazing and then the club folded like a deck chair after the sarah phone call


Were we target tested in 2012?
If we were The AFL or ASADA had some suspicions of something happening ,So if Fitzpatrick said he only found out about it the same time as everyone else he must have been out of the loop if it was ASADA but not if it was the AFL>




Too much SAGA info in the news. Reeks of Liz’s dark arts.

Expect the unexpected.

Something is happening.


My understandings is yes, we were target tested.


Didn’t Harcourt brag that Essendon were target tested?


That was my recollection too

Edit: didn’t manage to get a copy of that at the time, did anyone?


CJ - two questions for Chip you could ask.

  1. Having read the AFL Tribunal ruling and the CAS award, which does he think is more accurate?

  2. Why, in his view, have so many of the key protagonists in the SAGA - Hamilton, Robson, Evans (even Dank) never sought to clear the air or give their version of events?


News articles about the sampling/testing in 2012

edit: the australian link won’t work (paywall) if simply copied, but google “essendon target testing 2012” and the fourth link I got worked.

edit 2: nope, that didn’t work after one successful attempt either - cut and past below

Tests results raise doubts about WADA evidence against Essendon

Chip Le Grand
The Australian
12:00AM November 14, 2015

Unusually high levels of the banned peptide at the centre of the Essendon doping scandal were detected in samples randomly taken from footballers at other AFL clubs.

The test results raise serious doubts about scientific evidence the World Anti-Doping Agency will rely on when it opens its case on Monday against 34 current and former Essendon players accused of taking the banned peptide Thymosin Beta-4.

WADA earlier this year commissioned a specialist sports drug laboratory in Germany to develop a test for Thymosin Beta-4, a substance that is banned for use by athletes but occurs naturally throughout the human body. The WADA-accredited Institute of Biochemistry at the German Sports University in Cologne used the newly developed test to screen 27 samples taken from Essendon footballers during the 2012 season, when sports scientist Stephen Dank was employed at the club.

Of the 27 samples, two collected after a mid-season match against Port Adelaide showed elevated levels of Thymosin Beta-4. WADA in its submissions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport claims the ­results are further circumstantial evidence that Dank injected Essendon players with the banned peptide. The Weekend Australian can reveal the Cologne lab has since conducted further tests on samples taken from AFL players at other clubs with no known connection to Dank, a Queensland-born biochemist serving a life ban from sport.

Some of these samples also returned elevated readings for Thymosin Beta-4. When asked to explain these results, an analyst from the German lab suggested the footballers from other clubs must have taken the banned substance. There is no supporting evidence for this and the players are not under investigation for doping.

Another explanation is that Australian rules footballers, like other athletes, can naturally produce high levels of Thymosin Beta-4, particularly when recovering from illness or injury.

Previous studies have shown that osteoarthritis, a chronic injury common among footballers, and platelet-rich plasma therapy, an increasingly popular treatment for the condition, can both cause a spike in Thymosin Beta-4 production.

The medical histories of the two Essendon players who returned samples with elevated ­levels of Thymosin Beta-4 will be led as evidence in next week’s CAS hearing in Sydney.

The scientific evidence to be considered by CAS will be complex and fiercely contested. The hearing, expected to run five days, will include a “hot tub’’ evidence session, where testimony from competing scientific witnesses will be led concurrently before the three-man arbitration panel.

WADA will call University of Sydney professor of endocrinology David Handelsman as an expert witness. The 34 players will rely on the evidence of John Vine, an expert on drug testing and toxicology, and Monash University immunologist Richard Boyd, who has spent 40 years studying the thymus, the gland that secretes Thymosin Beta-4.

The Cologne test results are not crucial to WADA’s case. However, they are the only new evidence secured by WADA since the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority failed to convince an AFL tribunal that Essendon players were given a banned substance.

WADA’s case will be led by Richard Young, a US-based lawyer who drafted the original World Anti-Doping code and helped bring down notorious drug cheats Marion Jones, Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. Neil Clelland QC will argue the case for 32 players and David Hallowes will defend the remaining two. Of the 34 players, all but 12 have retired from the AFL or left Essendon for another club since the ill-fated 2012 season.

The AFL has submitted that due to the delay in resolving the case, any players found to have taken a banned substance should be given no effective penalty.

Dank maintains the players were given a permitted form of Thymosin peptide and not Thymosin Beta-4. He has refused to assist anti-doping investigators or provide witness testimony. He is appealing a life ban imposed by the AFL tribunal, which found him guilty of multiple doping offences while employed by Essendon and Gold Coast.

Next week’s hearing is de novo, which means CAS will rehear the entire case put to the AFL tribunal a year ago. To overturn the tribunal decision, WADA must prove to a level of “comfortable satisfaction’’ that Thymosin Beta-4 was sourced from China by convicted drug importer Shane Charter, prepared by Melbourne pharmacist Nima Alavi and injected into Essendon players by Dank.

ASADA failed on all three grounds to convince the AFL tribunal chaired by retired Victorian County Court judge David Jones. WADA believes the tribunal applied too high a standard of proof and has appealed the case to CAS as a matter of principle.

The CAS panel is comprised of British sports law guru Michael Beloff QC, former NSW Supreme Court chief justice James Spigelman QC and Romano Subiotto QC, an eminent European solicitor advocate based in Brussels. The hearing is closed to journalists and the public.


My question is, apart from the obviously interested pollies like Madigan and Di Natalie and the odd senate estimates event, has Chip ever become aware of any significant interest in this matter being reviewed out of Canberra? And if not, has he ever made many enquiries about it?


Thanks for posting. The last para of the Rage article - suggests that some testing at least was done out of season.
As to a review out of Canberra, the AFL conducted an internal review, did not release it, largely cleared itself, but released a short paper outlining follow up action. I think the main point was that integrity issues had to go through Dillon ( perhaps meaning that the CEO and others should stop meddling?)


@cjohns, here is a long list of questions regarding the activities or lack thereof of the AFL from Bruce Francis:


There is no lower human than a person who forces another to take the wrap for something he is responsible.

I am confidently satisfied that the following indicates that Mike Fitzpatrick and his fellow commissioners in 2013 may be such low life.

The AFL exonerated the Essendon board but forced Essendon members and James Hird, Mark Thompson and Danny Corcoran to take the wrap for the AFL commissioners and Essendon board’s (in their capacity as joint employers) failure to fulfil their duty of care to the players.

The AFL had at least four agreements which carried governance and legal occupational, health and safety (OH&S) responsibilities to the Essendon Football Club and its players, which it failed to fulfil:

The AFL and each of the 18 clubs have Master Governance Framework Agreements, which allow them to compete in the competition. Inter alia, in simple terms, it is a contract with bilateral responsibilities, which included OH&S obligations.

The tripartite agreement it had with Essendon and each player. Clause 7.3 of the AFL / Essendon / Player Contract says: “The AFL club shall provide a playing, training and working environment which is, so far as practicable, free of any risk to the health, safety and welfare of the Player. Without limitation, the AFL Club shall observe and carry out its obligations under the applicable Occupational Health and Safety Act or its equivalent.” Clause 12 of the same agreement says: “The parties to this contract (AFL/Essendon/the player) shall use their best endeavours, in relation to any matter or thing directly within their control, to bring about compliance with all the provisions of this Contract.”

Interestingly, AFL medical director Dr Harcourt stated during his Zurich, Switzerland, presentation at an anti-doping conference that “the AFL and ASADA got together to investigate some of the issues which were apparent … The real reason was that under individual contracts all players are contracted to the league as opposed to clubs” [my emphasis]. By definition, this means that the AFL has a duty of care to provide a safe work place for the Essendon players.

The bi-lateral agreement the AFL had with the Australia Sports Commission in its capacity as a national sporting organisation (NSO). Those responsibilities are set out in the Australian Sports Commission Policy Statement: NSOs Governance – Mandatory Requirements for ASC large partner NSOs. The AFL breached clause 2.3 of the Australian Sports Commission NSO Governance – mandatory requirements, which states: “An effective organisation must have a thorough system of audit and risk management, including internal and external processes. This committee must ensure there are adequate controls and systems in place to alert management and the Board to potential risks associated with the operation of the sport.” The AFL made no attempt to either ascertain whether Essendon had adequate OH&S systems in place or whether it was complying with the law.

The agreement with ASADA and its responsibilities under its own anti-doping code
Additionally, the AFL commissioners had onerous statutory obligations under the Corporations Act. Simply put, the AFL had similar occupational, health and safety, and duty of care responsibilities, to each player at Essendon as the Essendon board. AFL chief executive, Andrew Demetriou, acknowledged this when he said: ‘The AFL has a duty to all its stakeholders that we look after our players.’ Sadly, Demetriou did nothing.

The key clauses of the Victorian Occupational, Health & Safety Act with respect to the AFL and Essendon are 21, 22, 23 and 35. Both failed to fulfil their obligations and the AFL failed to ensure Essendon complied with these sections of the Act.

A. Did the AFL become aware, or had reason to be concerned, of a potential risk to the health and safety of the Essendon players?

B. Did the AFL do everything possible to eliminate the risk to the players’ safety? If eliminating the risk was impossible, did the AFL do everything possible to minimise the risk to the players’ health and safety?

To avoid repetition, I have coupled points B. and C. The following identifies examples of the AFL becoming aware of possible risks to the players health and safety, and the narration indicates the AFL did nothing.

Brett Clothier

The AFL became aware of a potential risk to the health and safety of the Essendon players at the end of July 2011, when ASADA informed the AFL’s integrity manager, Brett Clothier, that Essendon coach James Hird had enquired about peptypes (peptides).

Clothier responded appropriately by requesting that Essendon’s general manager – football operations, Paul Hamilton, bring Hird to a meeting at AFL House on 5 August 2011.

Page 16 of ASADA’s Interim Report said: “At the conclusion of the ASADA interview, the AFL’s Manager Integrity Services ‘re-iterated’ to Hird that peptides were a serious risk to the integrity of the AFL, in the same category as steroids and HGH.’ Mr Clothier told Mr Hird that ‘peptides already appeared to be infiltrating other elite sports in Australia and that [the AFL] we could be next.’ Mr Clothier also ‘implored [Mr] Hird to report to [the AFL] if he came across any information relating to peptides."

At this meeting, Clothier failed his duty of care to the Essendon players by not telling Hamilton that all peptides were banned. Hamilton was not only head of the football department but he was responsible for the supplement program.

In warning Hird about the risk of peptides, Clothier obviously believed there was a risk that Essendon may use peptides. Consequently, there was a possible risk to the health and safety of the Essendon players.

Clothier also told Hird “the [AFL] could be next”. Given how dangerous to the health and safety peptides were, Clothier should have audited every club and issued a warning to each. He failed to do so.

Clothier had a legal responsibility to visit Essendon and perform the following tasks:

Inform the players that all peptides were banned

Audit Essendon’s OH&S policies and procedures

Ascertain whether Essendon was complying with its OH&S obligations. At the bare minimum, Clothier should have checked whether Essendon had ever done a risk assessment of the club, and done a risk assessment of every function performed by every employee; whether the players and staff had completed any OH&S training; whether the players had complied with clause 7.4 of the AFL’s Anti-Doping Code; and whether the club had recorded the name and date of every substance given to the players.
The AFL did nothing to eliminate, or minimise, the risk, since Clothier called the 5 August 2011 meeting. The AFL should dispense with Clothier’s service but the bare minimum should be the same punishment Hird received. Hird warned the football department, of which he wasn’t a part, not to use WADA banned substances; not to risk the health and safety of the players; and not to administer any substance to the players unless Dr Reid had approved it. Even though Hird wasn’t a member of the football department, and even though he had no responsibility for the supplement program, he was suspended for 12 months for not doing more than warning the football department. Ironically, Clothier did the same as Hird and received the equivalent of a knighthood from Demetriou. All he did was warn Hird not to use peptides. Clothier should at least be suspended for 12 months.

AFL Medical Officer, Dr Peter Harcourt

On 19 October 2011 (the first day of 2012 pre-season training), Dr Bruce Reid phoned the AFL’s medical officer, Dr Peter Harcourt, and told him that Dean Robinson had given the Essendon players peptides, including a peptide called Tribulus, without his permission. Dr Reid was not only concerned that he had been marginalised but that Tribulus was a WADA prohibited substance. Marginalising Dr Reid was a possible breach of the AFL’s Anti-Doping Code, and Dr Harcourt was required to report the possible breach immediately. Clause 4.6 of the AFL’s anti-doping code says: “Where reasonable and as soon as the AFL becomes aware that a possible [my emphasis] Anti-Doping Rule Violation may have occurred, the AFL will immediately advise ASADA of the possible violation. The AFL will provide ASADA with all information pertaining to the possible Anti-Doping Rule Violation.”

Dr Harcourt failed to report the matter to ASADA or anyone at the AFL or to anyone at Essendon. Like Clothier’s inertia, if Dr Harcourt had fulfilled his responsibilities, the whole saga would not have occurred.

Extract from the Interim Report Page 117:

“Essendon commenced their 2012 pre-season training on 19 October 2011. As part of the pre-season training players were administered supplementation that had not been approved by club doctors Reid and De Morton.

Robinson was asked during interview about this unregulated period:

‘I know we were using a lot of protein … Tribulus was used. Creatine was used. Glutamine was used. In that space, So, yes. There was a supplement, AOD-9604, that Steve [Dank] introduced to the doctor, and the doctor authorised it and that is, off the top of my head, that’s all we were using in that period of time.

Dr Reid recalled another occasion on ‘day one of the [2012] pre-season’ when he blew his stack’ after discovering Robinson had approved for Tribulus to be handed to all players at training. Dr Reid recalled that he contacted AFL Medical Director, Dr Peter Harcourt that same afternoon to ensure the supplement wasn’t a WADA prohibited substance. In addition to speaking to Dr Harcourt, Dr Reid also approached Robinson to reinforce the protocol that ‘nothing without [his] knowledge’.

Robinson stated that he was also concerned about the use of AOD-9604. However, his concerns did not pertain to the nature of the substance but rather the means of administration (injection).”

During Dr Harcourt’s presentation he implied that the AFL knew that there was a possible risk to the Essendon players’ health and safety:

“It was a bit disturbing to be quite honest with you and it was shocking to the extent to which experimental drugs were given to young athletes and highlighted the craziness and the madness of certain individuals who were in the support staff who really didn’t come to grips with what they were doing.

But they involved Human Growth Hormone releasing substances, sections of HGH molecules which are which are quite available and manufactured out of China, a dementia therapy drug to improve … who knows, a number of veterinary products and unknown substances, substances like a Mexican drug for the treatment of muscular dystrophy was given to the players without knowing what it was. So it was all a little bit crazy.

Most of this did not have the Australian regulatory approval or the therapeutic goods authority. And most of the substances where either just recently on to the WADA list or in the related substances sections of the list. So the individuals who were going about this were trying to exploit the nuances of the WADA list and probably also had some understanding that some of these substances were so new that the laboratories didn’t have the capability of dealing with them.

Coincidentally, we did have some wind of this during the course of the year, it was 2012, and so we did arrange through ASADA to have a number of specimens of these players sent to the Cologne laboratory rather than the Sydney laboratory but nothing came out of it.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Dr Harcourt clearly admitted that the AFL had wind of this – “it was shocking to the extent to which experimental drugs were given to young athletes and highlighted the craziness and the madness of certain individuals who were in the support staff who really didn’t come to grips with what they were doing.

But they involved Human Growth Hormone releasing substances, sections of HGH molecules which are which are quite available and manufactured out of China, a dementia therapy drug to improve … who knows, a number of veterinary products and unknown substances, substances like a Mexican drug for the treatment of muscular dystrophy was given to the players without knowing what it was. So it was all a little bit crazy.

So the individuals who were going about this were trying to exploit the nuances of the WADA list and probably also had some understanding that some of these substances were so new that the laboratories didn’t have the capability of dealing with them.

On 16 August 2014, the Age said “Former ASADA chief executive Aurora Andruska this week broadly referred to 2011 and 2012 tests during cross examination in the Federal Court, saying while the results were inconclusive, they were enough ‘to show that we were on the right track’.” ASADA and the AFL would have been on the right track if they had gone to Essendon and audited the club and told the players to stop taking peptides.

It is unconscionable, and a flagrant breach of the AFL’s duty of care to the Essendon players, that the AFL didn’t go to Essendon to ascertain what was happening. It is beyond belief that the AFL did not demand that the players stopped taking substances when they believed that the players’ health and safety was possibly at risk. It is unfathomable that the AFL did not conduct an audit to ascertain whether Essendon was complying with the obligations set out in the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act.

General Manager, Football Operations, Adrian Anderson (Interim Report Page 241)

On 24 April 2012, the AFL’s general manager - Football Operations, Adrian Anderson sent an email to every club titled ‘Leading Approach to Sports Medicine & Sports Science in AFL’.


As a follow up to discussion with club coaches, CEOs, football managers, medical officers, physiotherapists and sport science staff in recent months, attached is a discussion paper as promised summarising the issues raised regarding medical decision making and optimal medical structures for AFL football.

The document has been produced to provide a starting point for further discussions between the three groups (medical Officers, physiotherapists & sports science staff) about optimal working relationships, and also to assist individual clubs in completing the exercise of looking at their own internal systems and structures.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Kind regards


The discussion paper that was attached to the email, identified a range of ‘issues’ and ‘possible consequences’ that had arisen under the existing medical arrangements within AFL clubs. Inter alia, it said [in] the AFLMOA survey of club doctors (14 clubs responded):

7/14 said non-medically qualified personnel had exerted undue influence on medical decision making on one or more occasions in the previous 12 months
6/14 said this had adversely affected medical decisions on one or more occasions
Non-evidence based medical practices are growing which presents potential medical and injury risk ie, IV vitamins/supplements, specialist referrals without doctor input, radiation exposure and unhygienic facilities.
The possible consequences were potential risk to player welfare (emergency cover, mistreatment, etc; exposes club, club staff & coaches, and AFL to potential litigation; issue with MO recruitment and retention; potential MO insurance issues.

The results of this survey flagged potentially catastrophic problems for the AFL, the clubs and the players, yet Demetriou, Anderson and Clothier, inexplicably, failed to do anything, despite their obligation under Clause 4.6 of the AFL’s anti-doping code to report it to ASADA.

More importantly, the AFL failed to meet its duty of care obligations to every club, not just Essendon. The AFL did absolutely nothing despite Anderson saying inter alia, there was a risk of Radiation Exposure [my emphasis]; Doctors were overruled; and there were unhygienic facilities at some clubs.

This email was just the summation of the questionnaires returned to Anderson. I imagine some of the raw data would have been much worse.

It is unconscionable that the AFL did nothing about this report.

As the possible consequences were potentially so horrific, it is impossible to comprehend that this email would not have been tabled at the AFL commission’s next board meeting.

Chief Executive, Andrew Demetriou

Andrew Demetriou was aware of Essendon’s interest in supplements in 2011, and aware that its doctor was marginalised by its sports scientists. He was quoted on 12 April 2013 saying “he had erred early last year in not acting more strongly on his fears sports scientists were overruling club doctors”.

Demetriou told Mike Sheahan in his 27 September 2013 interview that:

“There are always things you think you could do better. The most recent one that comes to mind, which I have spoken about before, I wish we had been more vigilant last year when we were just starting to think, hearing things about sports science and the influence of sports’ scientists and we sought of had an inkling. I was privy to some information and (was) hearing things and certain things were happening Mike. At a couple of clubs we were having doctors being marginalised. There were just things happening and it was part of an unhealthy and oh it was just an awkward trend which we didn’t like and I regret that we didn’t do something earlier [my emphasis].

This was a misleading and disgraceful admission. Misleading because “I regret we didn’t do something earlier” implies that the AFL actually did something. That is factually incorrect. The AFL did nothing until Essendon chairman, David Evans, ‘self-reported’ on 5 February 2013. Furthermore, it’s an admission that the AFL failed its governance obligations and that it didn’t fulfil its duty of care obligations to the Essendon players. Demetriou clearly acknowledged that he didn’t fulfil his responsibilities and was accepting some blame for what happened at Essendon.

Demetriou admitted that he should have been “more vigilant” in 2012. He admitted to knowing “doctors at two clubs were being marginalised”. He admitted to knowing that “things were happening” and he regrets he “didn’t do something earlier”. These shameful admissions are tantamount to acknowledging that the AFL was guilty of failing to fulfil its duty of care to the Essendon players.

Demetriou spoke at an integrity forum in Melbourne on 27 May 2014 and made a number of mind-blowing comments: “I started terming them [sports scientists] phys-edders because we saw a situation early on, even before the Essendon situation, where the demand for sport scientists and people who were coming into clubs, they were starting to have a significant influence over doctors, over club medicos, over coaches. At a couple of clubs … it was the doctor reporting into the sports scientist and that’s just unacceptable.” Despite these grave developments, and Demetriou’s belief this behaviour was unacceptable, he and the AFL did nothing. Demetriou failed to fulfil his duties as a director of the AFL. He failed to fulfil his duty of care to all AFL players. This was a major governance failure by the AFL.

Further proof that the AFL had governance problems in 2011 and 2012 came straight from Demetriou’s mouth. On the 9 April 2013, The Australian newspaper quoted Demetriou as saying: “We have already put our measures in place to enhance our policy and enhance the integrity of the [anti-doping] code with some sweeping changes.” Sweeping changes implies that the procedures and policies in place in 2011 and 2012 were inadequate. Unfortunately, we shall never know whether the AFL’s procedures and policies and governance were worse than Essendon’s, because unlike Essendon, the AFL swept its review under the carpet.

Demetriou went on to say: “I’m currently visiting every club, players included, to make sure they understand the importance of the issue.” My understanding is Demetriou didn’t visit every club. If the AFL had the correct procedures in place in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that checked on the clubs’ compliance with their OH&S obligations, Essendon would not have failed to fulfil its OH&S obligations.

Demetriou has clearly implied that the AFL breached its OH&S responsibilities to the Essendon players.

Deputy Chief Executive - Gillon McLachlan

Gillon McLachlan believed that the AFL could have taken action which would have prevented the whole saga. McLachlan accepted some responsibility on behalf of the AFL for the saga when he told SEN radio on 28 August 2013:

“The AFL dropped the ball by not monitoring the Essendon supplement program after advising coach James Hird to steer clear of using peptides in August 2011”

“The fact potentially though that we weren’t out there regularly monitoring is potentially a failing of the AFL.”

“I don’t think that we can shirk it in every instance, I’m happy to take that on the chin in the sense that if we had gone out there every month and monitored it, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

“People need to take various forms of accountability and I’ll take that.”
Hird claimed in a Supreme Court writ that during a meeting on February 5, the day Essendon self-reported, McLachlan told him he knew Essendon players had taken performance enhancing drugs, the Australian Crime Commission was about to hand down a report and that the club should ask the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to investigate, then the investigation will look better for you. Hird would have been in serious trouble if he had made a false claim in his writ.
AFL ‘Registrar’

According to ASADA, in order to enforce anti-doping rules against athletes or support persons, sporting organisations must maintain a contractual relationship with those persons. The contractual relationship is generally enabled through a registration process requiring athletes and support persons to abide with the anti-doping policies of the sport. As Essendon was never given a home address for Dank, and as there wasn’t a single piece of paper in his human resource file, it is extremely unlikely that Essendon ever had a contractual relationship that would satisfy the WADA Code. This was obviously a failure by Robson, Hamilton and the HR manager. Just as importantly, the AFL registrar failed to do his/her job.

General Breaches

Undoubtedly the most reprehensible failure to fulfil duty of care responsibilities was committed by AFL and ASADA officials who claimed they knew in 2011 and 2012 that the Essendon players were taking dangerous life-threatening banned substances and yet did nothing to stop the players. The moment the officials suspected that the players were taking dangerous life threatening banned substances they should have run down to Essendon and told the players to stop. In not doing so, they allowed the players to take for 15 months what the officials believed to be dangerous substances. This was unconscionable. The thoughts of the officials are encapsulated in Dr Peter Harcourt’s speech in Zurich in November 2013:

“It was shocking to the extent of experimental drugs were given to young athletes. And highlighted the craziness or madness of certain individuals who were in the support staff…”

“Coincidentally, we did have some wind of this during the course of the year [2012]… Most athletes of the team were involved. There was quite broad acceptance by the players even though it involved unusual practices and hundreds of injections.”

Dr Harcourt is basically saying the AFL had wind of an experimental supplementation program implemented by crazy, mad staff. And, inexplicably the AFL sat back and allowed this to continue for 15+ months.

The AFL failed to monitor compliance with Clause 7.4 of the AFL anti-doping code

Clause 7.4 of the AFL’s anti-doping code states, ‘Before the commencement of the AFL Competition in each year each Player must advise his Club Medical Officer in writing of all substances and medications he is taking or using or has taken or used since the last Match in which the Player participated in the previous year. The Player must promptly advise his Club Medical Officer in writing of all substances and medications he subsequently takes or uses during the AFL Competition in that year. Each Club Medical Officer must maintain and keep a written record in respect of each Player of all substances and medications so advised to him. Such records will be the property of the Club.’

If each club, including Essendon, complied with this rule, and if the AFL weren’t too lazy or too apathetic to ensure compliance with this rule, it is most unlikely there would ever be an anti-doping problem. High performance coach, Dean Robinson, general manager – football operations, Paul Hamilton, and chief executive, Ian Robson, failed to fulfil their responsibilities. AFL chief executive, Andrew Demetriou failed to fulfil his responsibilities by not having procedures in place to ensure compliance with this most crucial anti-doping clause. Undoubtedly, the most culpable was AFL integrity manager, Brett Clothier, who didn’t monitor compliance by any club. This was a major governance failure by the AFL.

As the AFL has onerous legal responsibilities for the health and safety of players at every club it is inexplicable, and unforgivable, that it has never, ever, conducted an audit of any club to ensure the clubs were complying with the OH&S laws. I doubt whether the AFL could even name the clubs with OH&S manuals.

Paradoxically, the public insists the RACV audits motels, caravan parks and hotels every three or so years to ensure that each still meets its star rating. On the other hand, the AFL has never audited a single club’s OH&S compliance. If it is important enough for caravan parks to have an OH&S accreditation program, the least the AFL could have done was to feign interest and visited each of the clubs once to check whether they had an OH&S manual and whether the staff had received any training.

In Demetriou’s own words, and in the words of his deputy chief executive, he was aware of a potential problem and he did nothing. Demetriou had a responsibility to do everything to ensure his clubs maintained a safe work place. Nearly as important as safety, Demetriou had a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the competition and protect the image of the game. The AFL was told in 2011 that Essendon had approached ASADA about peptides. Demetriou had a responsibility to the 17 clubs to ensure that no club implemented an illegal peptides program. The AFL, as McLachlan suggested, should have monitored Essendon monthly. It should have visited every club to ascertain whether its record keeping and occupational health and safety procedures complied with the OH&S Act. I’d be surprised if any of the clubs complied.

As the AFL is the custodian of the game it has just as much responsibility to have fool-proof procedures and impeccable governance as Essendon.

The AFL failed to devise or implement any adequate system or process to ensure that Essendon fulfilled its occupational health and safety obligations and that substances provided to and used by the players were safe and were compliant with the AFL anti-doping code and the World Anti-Doping Code

The AFL failed to ensure that systems were in place to make certain the program was monitored, systematic and supervised.

The AFL failed to act with sufficient vigour to terminate or significantly alter the program after becoming aware of, or being informed of, concerns about the program and adherence to the correct protocols.

On 16 October 2013, the AFL released the results of a survey into supplement use at AFL clubs. Twelve clubs admitted to running programs with “medium or high levels of supplement use”. Players at nine clubs also admitted to buying their own supplements. It identified an inappropriate definition of supplements and a flawed selection process in the employment of support staff. The AFL accepted the clubs’ word that none of the substances were WADA prohibited. The AFL chose not to investigate these clubs. Once again the AFL failed to fulfil its duty of care to its players.

Bruce Francis


Not sure if already posted