Australian Football League Essendon Chair David Evans Steps Down Amid Doping Probe
Australian Football League Essendon Chair David Evans "has resigned from the club," according to the AAP. Evan's health "has emerged as a key reason for the stunning resignation." Former Essendon player Tim Watson, the father of current captain Jobe, said that "there was no doubt the club's anti-doping crisis had taken its toll on Evans." Watson said, "I just think he's completely and utterly burnt out. From what I now know to be true, David has been struggling with his health for some time -- he's exhausted. He needs to get away, he needs to have a break." In a statement released on Saturday night, Evans said that "work and family were key reasons for his resignation." There was "no mention of his health in the statement" (AAP, 7/27). In Melbourne, Mark Robinson reported the "shock resignation" of Evans was "prompted in part by a physical breakdown in the changerooms after Essendon's match against Hawthorn on Friday night." Evans "was treated by club medical staff after complaining of breathlessness, having a light head and struggling with his vision after the match." Evans' "resignation has left Essendon reeling" -- it now has lost its CEO and chairman within a matter of months. Evans said, "I strongly believe that the best thing for the club at this stage is for a new chairperson in order to see through the next phase of this challenging and difficult time for our club." AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said Evans had been a "great chairman" and said that he was not shocked by Saturday's news. Demetriou said, "I’d obviously spoken to David on a number of occasions. He’s made a decision that’s taken into account his family, his professional career and obviously he’s personal well-being and so we respect that" (HERALD SUN, 7/28).
HIRD HANGING ON: Also in Melbourne, Quayle & Murnane reported "all indications are that Essendon coach James Hird will hang tough in the face of extraordinary pressure resulting from the Bombers' supplements program, which has already accounted for five key personnel departing the club." Hird "is steadfast in his belief that he has done nothing illegal and that players have not taken any banned substances, although his version of events is expected to be challenged by former high-performance head Dean Robinson in an interview due to be screened on Channel Seven this week." Within the club, there is "enormous support for the coach, as well as frustration that what staff were told would be a six-week investigation has stretched to almost six months." One of Hird's former teammates, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that "he could not see him leaving." He said, "I can't see him quitting, no way. It must be taking a toll but there's no way he'd walk away from it" (THE AGE, 7/29). In Melbourne, Caroline Wilson wrote Hird "is standing firm as the dominoes fall around him." Perhaps "he still sees himself as Essendon's saviour." Hird "threw his chairman under a bus as well as targeting the AFL just weeks before the investigation into the club was at its end." His camp "did not back off all weekend, implying to anyone who wanted to listen there was more to come." Where "it heads now is anyone's guess." What we described on Friday as ''Hird Inc'' more closely resembles ''cult Hird'' where his disciples' blind faith prevents them from seeing what sits so clearly in front of them. It "has been a strategy closely resembling the corporate governance at Essendon" from late '11 until late '12 -- scattergun and reckless (THE AGE, 7/29).