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Judge Upholds Motion For Legal Action Against AFL

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

In September of 2015, prominent Melbourne attorney Jackson Taylor filed court action against AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, then assistant CEO Gil McLachlan and then chairman Mike Fitzpatrick over the league's handling of the Essendon supplements saga. In his motions, he cited the league for deceptive practices, misleading the public on the of the joint investigation, and their own responsibility regarding player health and safety.

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No Essendon Saga in 2017? Guess Again!

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.

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No Fond Memories of Fitzpatrick For Some

 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

While many will remember Mike Fitzpatrick fondly for all the positives he accomplished during his time as chairman, there are some who are not so happy. At the announcement of his retirement from the AFL Commission, Fitzpatrick said of the Essendon saga, "I think it was a really difficult issue, what happened was difficult, it should never have happened. But I am totally comfortable with the way we dealt with it ... I felt – as different events unfolded – the commission and the AFL dealt with them as they came, dealt with them under their processes ... ".

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James Hird In Hospital

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

On the night of January 3, former Essendon coach James Hird was rushed to a hospital in suburban Melbourne to be treated for a drug overdose. He was later transferred to another facility for treatment. Whether or not the overdose was deliberate or accidental is unknown. The hospital to which he was taken would not reveal anything regarding the incident or Hird's condition due to patient confidentiality rules. A spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria also refused to comment.

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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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Essendon and Hird Part Ways

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

James Hird was known as the "Golden Boy" of the AFL - a moniker given him by the media - who could do no wrong. His only blemish was a fine for criticizing an umpire on "The Footy Show" after being badgered by co-host Sam Newman. He was always brilliant on the field, so much so that in the latter years of his playing career, then coach Kevin Sheedy gave him license to instruct teammates during a game. Sheedy once said at the time it was like having a coach out on the ground. Always a favorite son of the club and a third generation Bomber (both his grandfather and father played for Essendon), Hird was appointed senior coach at the end of 2010 after the club axed Matthew Knights.

  Determined to elevate the team back to premiership contention after a dismal 2010 season, events saw former Geelong senior coach Mark Thompson return to the club as an assistant.
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Tigers Turn Bombers Dreamtime Into Nightmare

Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

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Undoubtedly 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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WADA Appeals: It Ain't Over Yet Folks

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

On the morning of Tuesday May 12, the Australian Rules Football world woke up to the surprising - but not totally unexpected - news that the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) has decided to appeal the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) verdicts in the Essendon Bombers' supplements case. The world body will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland (with courts also located in Sydney and in New York). A statement released by WADA Director-General David Howman said "After a thorough examination of the evidence ... WADA has decided to lodge its independent right of appeal ... As with all pending cases, and adhering to the proper and normal respect for the integrity of the legal process, WADA will refrain from commenting further ... until a decision has been made by CAS."

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Tribunal Announces Essendon Decision

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE VERDICT IS IN - NOT GUILTY
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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