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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

It started on July 26 when Hawthorn dished out a ten goal hiding to the Bombers. After the match, chairman Mark Evans suffered an undisclosed physical breakdown in the rooms. That same night, following Hird's post-match press conference, Evans announced he was great but SEN personality Tim Watson (and father to Bomber captain Jobe),  said the supplement saga had taken a toll on Evans and that he was "completely and utterly burnt out .... struggling with his health ... exhausted." Watson said that Evans had been under enormous stress and strain since February. There have also been media speculations, denied by all, that Coach James Hird and Evans had been at "loggerheads" regarding conversations which took place before the Bombers went public about the supplements.

In announcing his resignation, Evans said he believed new leadership was needed during the crisis and that he also needed to devote more time to his own business. He said "Leadership is tough at times and I have tried to lead with fairness and integrity and at the same time acknowledging responsibility to make the right decisions. I am confident that this decision is one of those." Evans described the supplements saga and investigation as a "tragedy" but one which the club would survive. He also acknowledged the support and trust he received from the players and their families in dealing with the crisis. He remained hopeful that the players would be treated fairly once the results of the investigation were known. Board member Paul Little has stepped in as interim Chairman. Little said he and the board fully backed Coach James Hird. He also said everyone at the club was united in the face of the challenges ahead.

His announcement left everyone reeling, with Andrew Demetriou, interim CEO Ray Gunston and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire all acknowledging Evans for his leadership and courage during a very difficult time. Demetriou also acknowledged the fact that Evans had virtually put his family and business life on hold to devote his time and energy to Essendon.

The Monday following Round 18, there was media speculation that Andrew Demetriou had warned the Bombers about the Australian Crime Commission's report the day before the report was made public, thus forcing Essendon to come forward in February. Demetriou admits to calling former chairman David Evans at his home during a meeting between Evans, Hird, former football manager Danny Corcoran, former CEO Ian Robson and Dr Bruce Reid. Demetriou denies the allegations but had met with the ACC several days prior. The ACC has cleared Demetriou of any wrong-doing.

Once more, allegations have arisen which state that up to five doctors external to the club wrote prescriptions which were filled for Stephen Dank by pharmacist Nima Alavi. it is believed that these doctors have interests in the sale and supply of peptides and that Alavi was a "compounding pharmacist" whose prescriptions could somehow circumvent anti-doping rules. Dank once again denied giving the players anything illegal or harmful.

However another report surfaced implicating Dank in tests of the anti-obesity drug AOD-9604 by a Melbourne-based pharmaceutical company which is working to obtain a patent for the drug. According to the report, Dank supplied test results from 25 people to whom he administered the drug, four of whom were listed as "football players". No player names were included in the report and the substance used was a topical cream. The pharmaceutical company, Metabolic, said Dank was never commissioned to conduct any such tests for the company. They have also stated that they are not producing AOD-9604, although they are working on a patent for it. Essendon has refuted claims any of their players were used as test subjects. Club doctors examined MRIs from the case notes from period in question - September to November of 2012 - and found them "inconsistent" with those of the players. Should concrete evidence arise indicating the players were used without their knowledge, criminal complaints and civil suits could be filed.

Former Essendon high-performance manager Dean Robinson was interviewed on a television show several days later, implicating Hird in the supplements program.

Biochemist and convicted drug trafficker Shane Charter has said that Dank asked him to verify Collngwood's use of human growth hormones and used that information to convince Hird to proceed with the program. According to Charter, Dank had ordered the peptides some months prior and was determined to see his program used. Charter denies any knowledge of Collingwood. Charter, who is also a body-builder and former personal trainer to James Hird, confirmed that Hird had told Dank any program had to remain within the rules. He has also backed previous statements that Hird told Dank that anything given to the players had to be cleared by the club doctor and pose no risk to players' health.

Footnote: the week ended as badly as it started with Collingwood giving the Bombers a 12-goal hiding in Round 19.

Source: theage.com.au, heraldsun.com.au, sen.com.au

Article last changed on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 8:03 PM EDT


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