Bombers sorry for drugs 'experiment'

Written By Unknown on Senin, 06 Mei 2013 | 12.50

Essendon are not expected to sack any club officials in the wake of their internal investigation into irregular practices at the club last season.

Essendon chairman David Evans speaks to the media. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: Herald Sun

James Hird and the Essendon Bombers are today expected to receive the key findings from the investigation into the club's alleged illegal practices. Source: Getty Images

ESSENDON chairman David Evans has apologised for a breakdown of controls that allowed an "arms race" in experimental drugs at the club.

The club today released the findings and recommendations of former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski's internal review into the club's governance throughout the 2012 season.

The report slammed:

* The rapid diversification into exotic supplements;

* Sharp increase in frequency of injections;

* The shift to treatment offsite in alternative medicine clinics;

* Emergence of unfamiliar suppliers; and,

* Marginalisation of traditional medical staff.

The reports says that combined, these issues created "a disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged or documented within the club".

Evans said the club would now fiercely pursue a "zero tolerance" policy towards the use of supplements.


The review did not delve into "the nature of supplements administered by EFC during this period'', but Evans said the club is becoming "more and more confident about ... the fact that there was nothing banned that was given to our players''.

"I want to apologise to our players and their families, to our members and supporters, to the AFL community, about what has happened at Essendon," Evans said.

"I want people to focus on Dr Ziggy Switkowski's first recommendation and that is that the pioneering work of supplements should be left to the Australian sports commission.

"An arms race for the most sophisticated molecules must be prohibited.

"I am deeply sorry this has happned on my watch ... I will fight to ensure there is zero tolerance to risky procedures at our club."

Full text of the Essendon report

Former sport scientist Stephen Dank and high performance manager Dean Robinson - currently stood down - were not interviewed by Dr Switkowski, but former football manager Paul Hamilton was.

Striking "at the heart'' of the report, Evans said, was the fact a letter written by club doctor Bruce Reid detailing concerns about the Bombers new supplement program under Dank and Robinson never made its way to the board, as it was intended.

Evans said "no accountabilities'' would be made until after the AFL and Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority into the supplement program is completed.

That investigation is set to take another turn this week when players begin their interviews with ASADA.

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But Evans would not guarantee the long-term safety of coach James Hird, chief executive Ian Robson and all others at the club.

"I'm not guaranteeing anything,'' Evans said.

"The club has been through a tumultuous time and there's some change that needs to occur.

"But at the moment we stand by our people at the club at the moment, we support our people, we're holding together well in what has been a very difficult time, but we've got some decisions to make and obviously the first lot of decisions that we have to make are around these recommendations which no doubt the board will adopt and execute.''

Evans was deeply apologetic for letting such a scandal develop on his watch.

"The one thing I will say about my position is that the buck does stop with me,'' he said.

"I am chairman of the board, this has happened under my watch, I was elected for a three-year term at the AGM last year and I will bring forward my re-election, I will go to an election at the earliest possible time which will be November of this year.''

Who's who: The key players in Essendon saga

Evans confirmed publicly for the first time that Reid wrote a letter intended for the club's board that never got there.

"Bruce did write a letter and one of the confusing things here is we're confused as to where that letter went,'' he said.

"Clearly that letter didn't go to who it should have and that, again, is to the core of this report that escalation of issues when they arise should go up the chain.

"It's clear in this case that that didn't happen and that's something that we'll have to deal with.''

Evans revealed the club had dobbed itself into Medicare after external doctors placed a claim for blood tests on players.

Coach James Hird said this morning players were focused on this weekend's game and said he did not know what to expect.

"I am not sure, we will have to wait and see. It (the report) is due in the next few hours and we will wait and see then," he told reporters at Windy Hill.

Essendon coach James Hird watches his players at training. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: Herald Sun

Dr Switkowski wouldn't comment yesterday on what percentage of the report would be revealed, nor what it would recommend.

But club great Tim Watson, the father of club captain Jobe, said no Bombers official would be told to resign.

"I don't think there's going to be recommendations for anyone to be sacked. I don't think there's going to be blood on the floor tomorrow post this meeting, if that's in fact when it takes place," Watson told Channel 7.

"I think this is about the governance, so what they're looking to do is make sure that any of the errors of judgment along the way in terms of their supplement program won't be made again."

The review of the club's governance, processes and supervision followed revelations the Bombers were embroiled in an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into their supplements program run by sports scientist Stephen Dank.

Essendon players train at Windy Hill today. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: Herald Sun

The release of its findings comes as Dank continued to insist Essendon had nothing to fear.

Dank told Sydney-based media at the weekend that his correspondence with the World Anti-Doping Agency and ASADA proved he could use anti-obesity drug AOD-9604 on players because it did not contravene category S2, which lists specific substances.

But Dank was not drawn on the fact AOD-9604 was prohibited under category S0, which states substances not approved for human use are prohibited.

ASADA is this week expected to start interviewing Essendon players.

- with Matt Windley, staff writers

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