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Volume 10 No. 23
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Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority Ready To Present 'Slew' Of Lifetime Bans

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "is preparing a slew of infraction notices" against Australian Football League side Essendon players and club officials that "could result in lifetime bans from all sport," according to Jacquelin Magnay of THE AUSTRALIAN. Essendon coach James Hird, People and Development Manager Danny Corcoran, former High-Performance Manager Dean Robinson and sports scientist Stephen Dank, as well as players involved in the injecting scene, "are all in ASADA's sights." However, club doctor Bruce Reid, who raised questions about the supplements program, "is likely to avoid an infraction notice." The report, "savagely mocked" by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou as "garbage," said Dr. Reid would be "cleared of all charges and face no penalty for his role in failing to prevent Essendon players being exposed to health risks and, potentially, anti-doping violations through the injection of exotic supplements" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).

TURNING A BLIND EYE: In Melbourne, Caroline Wilson reported the AFL's decision to "turn a blind eye to the welfare failing" of Reid "reeks of a hunger for closure so ravenous that any meaningful message that needed to be sent to the game's medical industry has also been devoured." The settlement with the veteran club doctor who questioned the character of the three commissioners who would have judged him and referred to the AFL as a "malevolent organisation" has "also embarrassed the competition's governing body." AFL execs led by dealmaker Gillon McLachlan have "chosen to exonerate Reid, reportedly for the sake of resolution, claiming the men most guilty at Essendon have been punished." What they have done instead "is demonstrate that expediency rules at AFL House and if you truly choose to fight all the way to court you can avoid punishment" (THE AGE, 9/18).

CRITICISM ABOUND: Also in Melbourne, Mark Robinson wrote "is there one person at the AFL or on the AFL Commission who believes the entire Essendon supplements saga has been handled appropriately, fairly and transparently?" The football public "deserves more." They "won’t get it."  By exonerating Reid, they are saying that his conduct as chief medical officer of the club "is not worthy of punishment." Meanwhile, Hird, "who never saw one player injected," Corcoran, "who wasn’t there for three months because his wife died," and assistant coach Mark Thompson, "who tried to the stop the injection program, were hung from the nearest tree" (HERALD SUN, 9/18).

PREPPING FOR 2014: In Sydney, Walsh & Denham reported with the withdrawal of charges against Reid, Essendon Chair Paul Little and former champion Tim Watson declared the Bombers need "to switch their focus swiftly to next year." Essendon "must find someone to replace Hird for next season. Little said that although the decision to drop charges against Reid was welcomed, the club "would need to be proactive in coming weeks." Little said, "I guess the challenges ahead now for the club are getting our coaching role finalised and one or two other appointments but we really are positively looking forward to the future" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).

MORE CRITICISM: Also in Sydney, Patrick Smith wrote Demetriou has been the AFL's CEO for 10 years this month. There is "growing evidence that a decade in the hottest chair in Australian sport is long enough." The competition "has reeled from salary cap and draft breaches, from a club charged with curious match tactics and administration, a club thrown out of the finals competition for lack of governance around its drug program." All these "prodigious failures and breaches have been interspersed with, what in any other time and environment, would be seen as heinous errors." A club president "entangled himself in a racial vilification debacle when he somehow contrived to mention Adam Goodes and a gorilla in the same breath." A football player in his end-of-year celebrations "set fire to a dwarf, booked to entertain not to be torched." Other things, "damning breaches," have happened on his watch and they have come "frequently and worryingly of late." The decision to withdraw charges against Reid makes Demetriou "look foolish." It "embarrasses the league." As Demetriou asked all at Essendon "to consider their positions because of critical governance failures, it is time he asks the same of himself" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).