Friday, 5 July 2013

Everybody Help Yourself

Thursday afternoon, Essendon through a video message from David Evans made some points we think are worth revisiting.
We have summarised what we think are the key points made, and applied some quick analysis overnight.

1) No one should decry the actions of Essendon in 2012 until the ASADA investigation is complete. That's right, no one. That's the latest advice from Essendon, who, conversely seem to be the only ones excluded from making announcements and pronouncements.

Richard Hinds put it best though:

So, the general public is left to wonder... If no one can make comment on the club until after the investigation is complete, just why is the club allowed to make comment?

2) The Switkowski Report was a thorough and complete internal investigation into the governance of proceedure at Essendon... except that it didn't involve discussions with 'The Weapon' Robinson or Stephen Dank.
Reading the below, from The Age's analysis of yesterdays Evans Presentation, you wonder about the Switkowski Report...
"no one can yet be sure what happened at the club last year and we are still not fully aware of what took place."
Was the Switkowski Report worth the time and money? An exercise in 'brand management'? If internal analysis of governance in May found issues that needed correction, how can the club be "still not fully aware of what took place" by July?

3) From the Evans commentary, there is belief at Essendon that the ultimate authority to determine if AOD-9604 rests with the current investigation...
"whether it was a prohibited substance last year are questions that can only be answered after the ASADA/AFL investigation is completed"
And, apparently, the AFL are also under the impression that they are the deciding factor.
This despite the fact that there have been repeated confirmations from WADA that the substance falls under the catch-all clause S0, for drugs not approved for human use (etc). How is this point, from the world regulatory authority, still not understood yet?

4) AOD-9604, seemingly injected at Essendon in extraordinary doses, apparently has no effects on the team this year. This is not opinion, but apparently fact as...
"Expert opinions have been sought by the Essendon Football Club into the effects of AOD-9604 and our medical and pharmacological advice is even if the players were given AOD-9604 last year, it is not a performance-enhancing substance and it certainly would not have carry forward effects into this year,"
Which brings up four key points...
a- Why were no "expert opinions" (other than perhaps those of Dank, Charter etc) used to check, and re-check the implications of this drug before it being used?
b- The new-found opinion suggests there is no "effect into this year"... but what of last year?  
c- Possibly the most important point relating to the legality of using this product according to WADA rules... that the use of AOD-9604 is not banned because it is "a performance-enhancing substance", but because it is not approved for human use. How is this still not understood?
d- The second point around the actual reason AOD-9604 is banned should bring another agency into action later down the track... WorkSafe. Because basically an employer authorized injections of 'not for human use' products into their employees. Such an employee health and safety breach cannot be allowed to go unpunished just because they are a football club. Why has no journalist or football personality thought through the actions in terms of an "employee / employer" (for that is what they are) perspective?

5) A common theme, often repeated by the management of the modern day 'Same Olds' is that of the outsiders bringing this to the club, 'rogue elements', and in the Evans commentary, were resultant from...
"actions external to people to our club".
Actions external to the club.
Do these actions include injecting players away for the club? Away from the probity that internal scrutiny could have prevented?
Or away from the club, to prevent someone to see what was happening, and then turn whistle-blower to shut it down?

And of course, by external people we assume they mean... you know, non-Essendon people.
Who has left Essendon since this controversy blew-up?
 - Dank, Robson, Robinson and Hamilton.
All non-Essendon people (though Hamilton was a +100 game player at Essendon, and General Manager since 2008).

Essendon people that remain untouched?
 - Hird, Thompson, Reid, Corcoran, Evans.

Really, Essendon were only looking to push the envelope, and to better themselves, be the best, helping themselves to what they needed to win.

It will be interesting to see what the AFL do on this... how hard to come down on Essendon is 'hard enough', without damaging them for years?
How will the AFL stop other clubs and players from helping themselves to what ever edge they can find to win?

Peter Mattessi's tweet below sums up the nature of where football could head if performance enhancing drugs (or any other drugs that may offer players other 'non-natural' benefits) are allowed into the game.

Will football allow itself to be overrun by purely financial drivers? Will 'Return On Investment' be more powerful than the games' heritage, its rules, or its players health and welfare?

Or will the message be "everybody, help yourself!"?


  1. One point on this: players aren't covered by WorkSafe.

    Sporting contestants (with the exception of jockeys and other riders) are not eligible to receive compensation for injuries sustained while:

    participating as a contestant in a sporting or athletic activity, engaged in training or preparation with a view to so participating, or travelling between a place of residence and the place at which the person is so participating or engaged.

    1. OK... thanks for that Anon.
      Interesting that jockeys etc ARE able to be included.

      Is this as jockeys are professional sports people, and perhaps (in 1985 at least, when drawn up) footballers were not full time professionals?

      Or because there are so many other semi-pro/part time footballers that making a ruling to include them is too much exposure?

    2. Yep, Anon... but try the Occ Health and Safety Act, as per this post.