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SBD Global/August 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Essendon By Itself As Club Presidents Back Australian Football League Over Drugs Crisis

Australian Football League side Essendon "stands as footy's outcast after the 17 other clubs stood shoulder to shoulder with the AFL," according to Warner & Edmund of the HERALD SUN. After almost three hours of crisis talks at AFL House, one club president said, "The 17 clubs have had enough. We want it resolved and we want it resolved within the AFL structure. The mood among the presidents was that Essendon has been fast and loose, and we have to protect the game." Western Bulldogs President Peter Gordon said the 17 clubs had met without the AFL and Essendon and "resolved to unanimously support the integrity of the AFL Rules" (HERALD SUN, 8/22). In Melbourne, Walsh & Denham reported a day after Essendon Chair Paul Little declared the club "had no confidence" in AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and his administration -- and claimed a big percentage of football fans agreed -- that position "was given short shrift by every other club." A tenet of the complaints held by Essendon coach James Hird and the club is that neither Demetriou nor the AFL Commission "can hear the charges against the club and the officials with impartiality" given all have seen the interim Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority report. Both parties "have requested all matters be heard independent of the commission." Yet Gordon "made it clear every other club wanted the matter to be handled internally and within the auspices of the AFL's regulations." He said the integrity of the game and the welfare of the players were the "paramount considerations." Another president, who requested anonymity, said that "some clubs were angered by Essendon's behaviour and Hird's Supreme Court action." He said, "They should all take their punishment and move on. Clubs I have spoken to want sanctions against them and for those sanctions to be sizeable" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/23).

A QUESTION OF MORALS: Also in Melbourne, Chip Le Grand reported "she called herself Sarah," and over 11 minutes of extraordinary, heartfelt radio, she "gave voice to the fears that have gripped Essendon's players and their families throughout the supplements scandal." Her son still does not know "what he has been injected with and what the future health effects might be." She said, "It is all right for James (Hird) and the board at Essendon to say they have not cheated. The whole question is not about cheating. The whole question is about morals, it is about ethics, and it is about the trust the parents put on the club for the club to take care of their kids" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/23). In Sydney, Samantha Lane reported Hird's "writ against the AFL includes the stunning allegation" that Demetriou told Essendon's former chairman the club's players "had taken performance-enhancing drugs." The statement of claim -- lodged with the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday morning, and designed to force the AFL to provide more detailed information about Hird's conduct unbecoming charges -- also said that AFL Deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan urged Essendon to turn itself in to anti-doping authorities because it would ''look better'' for the club. Hird's writ stated the AFL has acted ''in bad faith'' throughout the seven-month saga, in part by leaking information ''unfavourable'' to the Essendon coach during an apparently confidential anti-doping probe" (THE AGE, 8/23).
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