Australia makes sporting history – and it’s nothing to proud of

If Australia prides itself on one thing, it’s good sportsmanship. We have consistently “punched above our weight” on the world

If Australia prides itself on one thing, it’s good sportsmanship. We have consistently “punched above our weight” on the world stage and have a sting, some might say, sports man, culture of loving a good game…. of anything.

Now our only national sport has the worst kind of black mark against it, as the AFL team Essendon Bombers becomes the first team in Australian history to be banned from playing.

In a shock decision this morning, the Court of Arbitration for Sport found 34 players guilty of taking the banned substance Thymosin Beta-4 three years ago. These players are now banned from playing for two years.

The current Bombers team loses 12 players, including their skipper Jobe Watson, whose 2012 Brownlow medal is now under scrutiny, along with vice captain, Dyson Heppell, plus their star player Cale Hooker. All in all, the team is pretty much wiped out for the 2016 season.

Five other players have moved on to other teams and will also miss the season (from St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and Port Adelaide), however reports that most of the suspensions will come to an end on November 13, taking into account provisional suspensions already served.

The decision, which is final, overturns the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal’s not guilty verdict handed down in March, following an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Authority.

The 34 players took the substance as part of the team’s training and supplement program.

The CAS said it found that the code against using banned substances had been violated and that “all players were significantly at fault”, despite arguments that the players were simply doing what they were told by their coaches and trainers.

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Ben McDevitt said: “This unfortunate episode has chronicled the most devastating self-inflicted injury by a sporting club in Australian history.”

He said there was “little ground” for the players to claim it wasn’t their fault seeing as they should be responsible for whatever goes into their bodies.

“At best, the players did not ask the questions, or the people, they should have. At worst, they were complicit in a culture of secrecy and concealment,” he said.

This verdict will have significant repercussions at home and around the world – possibly affecting Australia’s reputation as a nation of good sports.

Essendon Chairman Lindsay Tanner made this brief statement to fans:

“Regrettably we can confirm the Court of Arbitration for Sport has found 34 past and present players guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation.

“As a result, the players – including 12 currently listed with Essendon – have been suspended for the 2016 season. The Club is currently digesting the decision and we will provide a further update later today.”

One Fan wrote on Facebook: “What the hell? They lost their points in 2013, coach suspended, club in all sorts of trouble. THREE years later the players are suspended?! FFS – they have been punished enough. I am so upset with this decision.”

Another said, “As an Essendon supporter, I take this decision on the chin. Deep down I think we all knew something wasn’t right. I teach my kids to take responsibility for their actions. As harsh as it is, this decision sends a strong message to the whole league and people who follow it. 12 people will sit the year out, but 12 people who thought they wouldn’t get a game can now step up. Back to development and building a clean future. Don’t blame WADA or the AFL. Blame the club, accept the decision and move on.”

What do you think? Was it the players’ fault they took a banned substance? Is it fair that they be banned from the game?



  1. They say they were just doing what they were told…… Taking any sort of drug is always a personal decision. They were not held down and forcefully given these supplements….. As an adult, NO is always an option. Sorry guys, you’re banned from competing….. Accept it…. Just like you accepted the banned drugs to start with.

    • Roy Bridges  

      Rubbish, young men who are told how high to jump, how to train what to eat ,they asked in writing to confirm what taking ok which was done. May be something else wrong when 34 young men out. Last year did not do this year did ,somethings wrong. Essendon head doctor challenged ,was going to sue all dropped ,being going on for 4 years what a disgrace

  2. It’s all very well to pontificate and bleat that the players could have said: “No” to the supplements, but that might be a bit hard when a long-term, respected Doctor and the pinup boy of the club, who is now the senior coach, is telling you it will be for your benefit.
    I hope this will be a salutary lesson to other clubs and participants in all sporting codes.

    • Max Latch What a nasty piece of work you are and afraid to show your face!!! Exactly what facts do I not have straight???

    • Max Latch at the time hird was the coach , but not any more , but the rest is right in what he said

    • Many were young men Joan. Just because you turn 18 or even 21 doesn’t mean you have the knowledge of experience. They were still at that age where they trusted Doctors and people in Authority. They won’t anymore. It was not their fault

    • Gary Gillam They were not all 18 to 21 year olds. What about the older players (so called leaders of the team) like Fletcher, Watson et al? Why didn’t they speak up? All guilty! Even AFL whitewSh exposed. Damn disgrace at Essendon and AFL!

    • Try to read what is written Neil Beaumont before you comment. I believe I said “many” not “all” Understand the difference ? But Who knows why older players didn’t speak up. The fact that they didn’t lends more weight to the statement that younger men are more likely to trust authority wouldn’t you say. Why would you want to brand them drug cheats for life. There are degrees of guilt and compliance here.

  3. about time there was a clear message … the ends DO NOT justify the means … well done WADA.

    • Roy Bridges  

      Rubbish , get all the facts before you comment.

  4. I would be very reluctant to take anything that I did not know what it was. They were at best very foolish. Lord knows what health repercussions they will have in the future. I think that the people who told them to take the drugs should face criminal charges if they have not already. A clear message has been sent and that is good.

  5. Problem Some of the team members weren’t even in the team when all this drug stuff was happening. Why should they suffer?
    So now they have successfully ruined the Essendon Football Club, are they going to investigate the other clubs? Probably not.

    • err essendon ruined essendon football club ,nobody else , if they didnt try to cheat , the players wouldnt be in the position they are in now , the players trusted the bigwigs of the club , and the club didnt display any duty of care to their players

    • And they were right to trust the club. What rights do they have against club decisions. Not many if they want to play.

    • The younger players now have free rein to show their skills. At least this will finally end the saga and no other club will be tempted to cheat in this way in trhe future.

  6. We all knew it would come to this . No excuses , from the top to the lower end , the answer is obviously No !!!!!

  7. The whole club especially the people running the club are at fault here including the players. They were asked to sign a document saying they would keep these injections secret! Hello. Would that not set alarm bells ringing? And the respected club doctor did not know. Read the book on this by Chip Le Grande and it is horrifying what these ‘supplements’ could have been. I feel for the players but they were complicit in this.

    • If your boss asked you to sign a document would you? It is not that simple. We put trust in who we work for!!

    • the player were told by the people they trusted that what they were taking was all above board and legal , they were told to sign the paper not to talk about it and give other teams the upper hand ,

    • There were thousands of injections given. Dank didn’t even record who had received what and when they had received it. As I said I feel for the players but they consented to these injections and signed a document to say the would keep it a secret. Would you sign a document from your boss asking you to do something and keep it secret?

  8. And what about Dank? He should have received some sort of punishment for bringing the substances to the club ???

  9. As an Essendon supporter I am so gutted right now. Danks has gotten away with his cocktail of supplements and the poor players are now suffering. In life we may be given a choice but sometimes we are put in a position and trust those in a higher position. I just question why has it taken this long to make this decision to ban players… it should have been done from the start if they thought we were guilty. Essendon were not the only club in this position but others have been brushed under the carpet. Really unfair and now I am toying whether to renew my membership or not!!

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