APRIL 20 2017 - 12:41PM
Mark Thompson says the Essendon supplement scandal will probably end up killing him
Former Essendon assistant and interim senior coach Mark Thompson says he cannot let go of the supplements scandal that engulfed the club for four years – and believes it will end up killing him.
A candid Thompson was a keynote speaker at a Law Institute of Victoria panel discussion about drugs in sport on Thursday morning.
He revealed the whole saga left him "bitter and twisted" and probably led to the breakdown of his marriage to his second wife Jana last year.
Thompson, who was fined $30,000 for his role in the biggest doping scandal the sport has ever seen, doesn't like football any more and said he has no intention of ever being involved in the AFL system again.
Thirty-four past and present Essendon players were suspended for the entire 2016 season despite not providing a positive drug test and that is something Thompson struggles to grapple with.
"I find it amazing when the AFL says the integrity of the competition and the safety and welfare of the players are the two pillars that will be front of mind," Thompson said.
"I know more of what happened than probably most people, I've read that much about what was going on – it's incredible.
"And it just sits in my guts and churns and it still does and it's going to probably end up killing me because I can't let it go. People tell me I've got to let it go, but I can't.
"I know what happened. I know that there were things that were added to the report, things were taken out of the report not to be seen.
"I'm quite bitter and twisted and I think I have got the right to be. I don't like the game any more, I don't want to work in the AFL system, I don't want to associate with people. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is.
"I've lost my love for it, which is a shame because I'm a ■■■■■■ good coach. It's a shame they could do this to people. They've got no right to do this to people – you don't not give people a chance to defend themselves, and that's what they've done.
"I lost my wife because of it, I reckon, because I was up at night reading about all my exploits on the internet, catching up on tomorrow's news as it came out."
Thompson was "staggered" that the entire truth of what happened during the supplements scandal hasn't been revealed yet and believes there are a lot of people trying to hide the truth.
The dual Geelong premiership coach admitted he was "embarrassed" that he didn't do more during his time at Essendon to stop the experimental program, which he deemed to be unethical, but stressed it wasn't his responsibility to do so.
Thompson said the architect of the program, disgraced sports scientist Stephen Dank, should never have been hired by Essendon in the first place.
"When we interviewed Dank for the position, there were a few people in the room who didn't want him, and there were a couple who did and he ended up getting the job," he said.
"He probably shouldn't have got the job in the first place because he shouldn't have been allowed to work at Essendon because he had actually been known to have WADA-prohibited substances used and bought on his patients in his clinics.
"The WADA rule says that anyone who has any dealings with that is not allowed to work in the sporting field – AFL included. So the fact that he worked for the AFL's club Gold Coast a year before he came to Essendon is a problem in itself, isn't it? If they had been diligent and stopped him from working there, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have employed him."
Thompson never understood why Essendon self-reported on that fateful February day in 2013 because the key figures in the football department were adamant no prohibited substances were given to their players.
The triple premiership Essendon player blamed former chairman David Evans for it and accused him of working to closely with the AFL instead of trying to protect the people at the club he represented.
It has long been alleged that former AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou tipped off Evans that the Bombers were in ASADA's sights the night before Essendon self-reported.
"It's very important to know (if the call took place) because what happened was they decided our fate, my fate, my career, my life – they decided that before one person had given any evidence," he said.
"It got proved at a federal court that they had a meeting between the government, AFL, ASADA and Essendon and said, 'Right, we'll let players off', which is crap. All right? Crap. They shouldn't be making those statements.
"They said, 'no club is going to get fined, we'll just get a few heads to take the fall for us all'. That's it. Before anyone was interviewed, before the investigation started. So Dave Evans was working with them unfortunately.
"There was no hearing, it was two days of just waste. (I was asked), 'how much is the acceptance of guilt are you going to accept? Do you want to accept $40,000 worth of guilt? Or 30 or 20?' I said, 'none'. I said, 'just give me a chance to defend myself. I want to talk to you, I want my solicitor to talk to you and try and get me off and say what my involvement in this whole program was'. There was none of that, we never got the chance."