Essendon’s now-controversial fitness program that guided the club through its 2012 season has become under serious investigation as rumours of ‘stimulants’ being used to enhance performance comes to light.
The club’s now ex-sports scientist Stephen Dank was one of the men behind the fitness program, a program that required players to sign documents that put full responsibility for any substances taken back onto the players.
It is known that all players had the option to sign the contracts and partake in the program.
The club met with AFL deputy CEO Gillon McLaclan in previous days to discuss options regarding the use of potentially prohibited substances and what the club should do about it. The club will now become the centre of a thorough investigation from the AFL and ASADA.
The purpose of the investigation is to gain a “full bill of health” going into the 2013, as well as protecting the integrity of the club.
Obviously there are some serious questions that need to be answered and they will be answered over the coming days, but it’s hard for the Essendon executives to sit back and play the innocent card as they appear to be doing. If the players are using illegal substances, you could bet your bottom dollar on the club’s board knew exactly what was going on.
The entire press conference seemed to be a quick diversion tactic to both try and save face by claiming the club had done nothing wrong, as well as to try and take heat off the issue.
Claiming to have “Done nothing wrong” and then seeking out investigation reeks of something incredibly foul. What that is will be discovered in the coming days.
There is something to be said for the extremely short duration of the interview which hardly stretched past the five-minute mark, but that’s for the public to draw conclusions from.
The integrity of the Essendon Football Club will now certainly be put under the spotlight in a time where drugs in Australian Rules are a major issue. Although previous issues that have fallen into the vision of the media are more related to personal use rather than performance-enhancing use, this incident certainly isn’t doing the image of the AFL any good.
If there were to be a breach of the AFL’s already questionable drugs policy, Essendon would face serious financial penalties as a result. It’s unclear if other actions would be taken as punishment.
This is a topic that is sure to dominate news headlines for potentially weeks, especially if something is found during the investigation. It’s certainly not a good way to cap off what has been a turbulent off-season for the AFL.