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ASADA May Reopen Bock Case and Heppell To File Suit

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

In 2010, former Essendon high performance manager Dean Robinson was employed as the fitness coach at the fledgling Gold Coast Suns. Stephen Dank was also there for several months on a "handshake agreement" until dismissed just prior to the 2011 preseason. Adelaide's Nathan Bock also joined the Suns as an uncontracted player at the start of the 2010 season after 113 games with the Crows. During his time with the Suns,

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Fletcher Leads Essendon Departures

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

After weeks of speculation, it is now official that Dustin Fletcher has retired. Fletcher was subbed out of his 400th game due to an abdominal injury and never played again.Dustin Fletcher is carried off by his captain Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton after playing his 400th game and becoming the third player in AFL history to do behind Michael Tuck and Kevin Bartlett. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA. The club was hopeful he would be recovered for a send-off game, but it was not to be. Fletcher, 40, expressed disappointment that he could not get up for one more game. He pushed himself in the past few weeks to get back and interim coach Matthew Egan also lamented that one more game for the veteran defender had not proven possible. Egan said the Dons gave Fletcher every chance to play on Sunday but he ruled himself out.
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What Next For Bombed Out Bombers?

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

There are three types of coaches - those who quit, those who have been sacked and those who will be sacked, with very few exceptions to the rule. In the earliest days of Australian Football there were no senior coaches. Team captains gave instructions on the field and acted as de facto coaches at training sessions. The first official senior coach was Jack Worrall who was appointed Carlton coach in 1902. Of course being the first senior coach appointed, he was also the first who was fired. He went on to be reinstated after the bookkeeping kerfuffle which saw him axed was sorted out and he was absolved of blame (he was also club secretary at the time). And so it has been ever since. If a team

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Tribunal Announces Essendon Decision

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The saga that has lasted over two years is finally over with the Anti-Doping Tribunal clearing all 34 players involved in the supplements program.The verdict was unanimous and in a statement Tribunal Chairman David Jones spelled out the reasons:

  • The Tribunal was comfortably satisfied that the substance Thymosin Beta-4 was at the relevant time a prohibited substance under the Code.
  • The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4.
  • The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the Anti-Doping Code.

The statement also said that a decision regarding "a former Essendon support person" (read: Stephen Dank) would be made at a later date. Whether or not the full 133-page decision document or part of it will be made public is left up to the players, the club and their lawyers. Leaked copies have apparently reached some in the media. In summary, the panel conceded there was insufficient evidence against the players to establish that they had taken TB-4 and it could not be established that the substance they were injected with was in fact, TB-4. The credibility of the key individuals involved was so low and the chain of custody and record keeping so suspect, exactly what was injected could not be proven.

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Essendon Contingency Plans

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

February 9 to 12, 2015
After a week of uncertainty and speculation, Essendon will field a team in the NAB Cup preseason games. It was rumored that the Bombers might boycott the preseason games, a “one in, all in” scenario. This boycott was for several potential reasons. The first was to protect the anonymity of the “supplements” players (provisionally suspended while the Tribunal considers its decision and ASADA's refusal to leave the suspensions backdated if the players took part in the NAB Challenge). The players involved wanted the suspensions backdated to when they last played in September of 2014.  As a result, they dropped their request to have the provisional suspensions lifted by the AFL Commission which has the power to do so. Bombers Dustin Fletcher and Jobe Watson are already at risk of losing part of the backdating due to the AFL allowing them to play in the International Rules Series late in 2014.

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Essendon Preseason In Limbo

Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Essendon's preseason campaign could be non-existent with up to 18 players on provisional suspensions while the Anti-Doping hearings continue. The Bombers' first NAB Cup game is scheduled for March 7 but the case may not be concluded for several weeks after that. If found guilty, the players could have their sanctions backdated to their last game in September 2014. The club has been in talks with the AFL, which has the power to lift those suspensions to allow the players to compete. Essendon chairman Paul Little said it was unclear whether or not such a move would impact the ability of a player to use this time against a potential sanction in the event of a guilty verdict. He said the club continues to work with "all relevant parties" to clarify the situation and reach a "satisfactory outcome for our players as quickly as possible.”

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Essendon Takes ASADA to Court

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

On June 12 ASADA, after 16 months, finally took the first step towards charging Essendon players with the use of illegal substances during the club's 2012 supplements program. ASADA has issued "show cause" notices to 34 past and current Essendon players. The notices are not infraction notices, rather they are notices for the players to respond to and explain why they should not be charged. They have ten days from notification to respond. The notices refer to the use of a peptide known as thymosin Beta 4. There has been no mention of the controversial anti-obesity drug AOD-9604.

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Bomber Dreamtime Tiger Nightmare

Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

“Dreamtime at the G" between Essendon and Richmond once again drew a big crowd of around 75,000 fans, with most expecting a close contest between two teams fighting to stay in contention for Finals' action. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, only one team appeared hungry and it wasn’t the boys donning the yellow sash. Essendon players appeared refreshed after their Round Ten bye and they bounced out of the blocks with the first goal to back man Dustin Fletcher within three minutes of the opening siren. Ben Howlett added a second before ex-Geelong goal sneak Paul Chapman tripled the Bombers' pleasure, giving Essendon a 19 point lead at the ten minute mark with the Tigers yet to score. Essendon’s pressure was first class, forcing Richmond into numerous turnovers. The Tigers bombed the ball forward - seemingly without system - playing into the hands of the hard running Bombers. Howlett kicked his second goal as the Bombers did what they pleased. It wasn’t until the twenty-one minute mark that Richmond finally registered a score - and it was a rushed behind. At quarter time the Bombers held a commanding 27 point lead that should have been even greater on the balance
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Round 23 Milestones

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

This round's major milestones include:

250 games: Andrew Embley (WCE), Daniel Giansiracusa (WB)
200 games: Justin Koschitzke (StK), Adam Schneider (StK)
100 games: Alwyn Davey (ESS)
50 games: Luke Dahlhaus (WB)

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Round 21 Milestones

Steve McBurney will become the third umpire in League history to reach 400 games in Round 21. Ahead of him are Hayden Kennedy (495 games) and Rowan Sawers (410 games).

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