Jobe Watson

No Essendon Saga in 2017? Guess Again!
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Just when everyone thought the Essendon supplements saga was done and dusted, it has reared its dubious head once again. Ironically, it has been just about exactly four years since the Bombers came out and "self-reported" with a request that the AFL investigate the 2012 supplements program. Now, Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper has obtained audio recordings of a crisis meeting which was held in August of 2013. Present at that meeting were chairman Paul Little (chairman), Jame Hird (coach), Mark Thompson (asst coach) and Danny Corcoran (football manager). The meeting was held to discuss the charges laid against the 34 players. The quartet are furious, believing the AFL had betrayed them and gone back on their word that the players would not be charged. In expletive-riddled conversations, all four express their anger at the league.

Dank Appeal Tossed
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Stephen Dank's appeal against his lifetime ban from international sports was set for November 21. However, the day before the hearing he emailed his former attorney that he would be unable to attend due to a family member being seriously ill in the hospital. He, in turn, notified lawyers for the AFL and ASADA and requested an adjournment. After 45 minutes of deliberation, board chairman Peter O'Callaghan announced the rescheduling of the hearing for December 1, contingent on Dank providing evidence from the hospital concerned and attending physician by November 26. This went against the request by the attorneys that the appeal be immediately dismissed due to their skepticism regarding Dank's latest excuse.

Jobe Watson Loses 2012 Brownlow Medal
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

 The AFL Commission was scheduled to meet on November 15 to discuss, among other things, whether or not to strip Jobe Watson of his 2012 Brownlow Medal. However, about a week before the meeting Watson decided to return the medal himself. He said he had "mixed emotions" regarding his decision. Now the Commission will decide whether or not to award the medal retrospectively to the two runners-up in Sam Mitchell and Dustin Martin. 

Banned Bombers Lose Appeal
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The Swiss Court For Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by the 34 former and current Essendon players. The player were initially cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, but WADA's appeal to CAS overturned that verdict and the players then launched their appeal against the banishment. With the penalty backdated to account for procedural delays, the players were effectively ruled out of the entire 2016 season.

Jobe Watson Will Play On
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

There has been speculation throughout 2016 about whether or not Essendon's Jobe Watson would return to the Bombers or walk away from the game. The supplements saga and resulting one-year banishment had taken a heavy toll on him and he left Australia to travel and get away from football.

Last Best Hope For Essendon 34
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The 34 former and present Essendon players have lodged an appeal in the Federal Court of Switzerland against the CAS verdict. The club's insurance will pay all legal fees. The appeal paperwork has to be translated into French or German as those are the only two languages in which the court, based in Lausanne, operates. Club chairman Lindsay Tanner said on 3AW radio, "The club is supporting that. We feel it's the right thing to do. It's obviously very important to the players to clear their name ... ".

It is unclear what time frame there would be on what would be a final appeal. However, the current players are resigned to missing the 2016 season. According to AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh,

What's Next For Essendon and AFL
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE FALLOUT

For the immediate present, the two biggest issues facing Essendon are replacing the suspended players and whether or not Jobe Watson keeps his 2012 Brownlow Medal. The league has already put provisions in place for replacement players for Essendon as well as Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs. For the latter four, they can upgrade rookies to their a rookie to their respective senior lists to replace the suspended players.

Of course, it is a bit more complicated for Essendon. However, the AFL had held meetings with Essendon and the AFLPA and came up with several resolutions:

Footy World Reacts To Essendon Verdict
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 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE REACTIONS

Needless to say, almost everyone was shocked at the decision by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS)- not so much the verdict itself but rather the severity. The 34 past and present players, their families, friends and supporters are devastated. The AFL, AFLPA and Essendon have all excepted the verdict and are and will be the ramifications.

World Court: Essendon 34 Guilty
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

Essendon's worst fears were realized on January 11 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport finding 34 past and present players guilty of taking banned substance Thymosin Beta-4. Even with backdating and time served during the provisional suspensions, the active players in both the AFL and at other levels of competition are banished until mid-November. The suspensions also mean no contact whatsoever or training with their respective clubs.Twelve of the 34 are still at Essendon while the others have either retired, been delisted and gone elsewhere or traded.

Tigers Turn Bombers Dreamtime Into Nightmare
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Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

Deledilo Tackled during Richmond Win over EssendonUndoubtedly the biggest game of the AFL’s Indigenous Round - one that celebrates Australia’s indigenous population and their contribution to the game of AFL - is the “Dreamtime at the G” clash between Essendon and Richmond. Almost 84,000 fans packed the MCG to watch this year’s encounter, with both Essendon and Richmond desperate for victory to keep in touch with the Top Eight. The Bombers, having already beaten the reigning Premier in Hawthorn, had shown sporadic form heading into Saturday night’s game, while the Tigers seemed to be finding their mojo with consecutive wins against Collingwood and Port Adelaide after a poor start to the season. There was more to celebrate for Essendon fans as stalwart fullback Dustin Fletcher was playing his 400th AFL game - an amazing achievement given the demands on the modern AFL player.

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