Kevin Sheedy urges the AFL to apologise for ‘PATHETIC’ handling of Essendon’s supplements saga


Kevin Sheedy urges the AFL to issue an apology to Essendon for its ‘PATHETIC’ handling of the supplements saga – but Bombers legend fears the league does not have the ‘courage’ to front up to his old club 

  • Essendon drug scandal rocked footy, with 34 players banned in 2016
  • Players were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs in 2012 season
  • The ‘Essendon 34’ were initially not punished by an AFL tribunal 
  • But were suspended after a Court of Arbitration for Sport Appeal four years later
  • Ex AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou cricised Federal Government’s handling of case

Kevin Sheedy has urged the AFL to apologise to Essendon for its ‘pathetic’ handling of the infamous supplement saga that rocked footy a decade ago.

The Bombers were at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the history of Australian sports, with 34 players found guilty on appeal of taking performance enhancing drugs during the 2012 season.

Four years later, the AFL suspended the players involved in the scandal for 12 months, while 2012 Brownlow medallist Jobe Watson had to return his medal and then-coach James Hird was encouraged to stand down. 

Kevin Sheedy has slammed the AFL’s handling of Essendon’s drug scandal in 2012

Sheedy, who coached the Bombers for 26 years until 2007, blasted the AFL and the Federal Government for buckling under pressure and handing out one-year bans to the so-called ‘Essendon 34’

‘The AFL should apologise […] and they probably wouldn’t have the courage to apologise to Essendon,’ the Essendon legend told the Herald Sun on the eve of the club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

‘They were pathetic decisions of the past.

‘I would think, when you look back, the AFL didn’t handle it very smartly. We were controlled by the government.’

Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for a year in 2016 for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season

Thirty-four Bombers players were banned for a year in 2016 for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2012 season 

Essendon reported itself to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) in February 2013, citing concerns over the nature of their sports supplement program and asking the league to investigate the use of supplements during the 2012 season.

While the ‘Essendon 34’ were not suspended by the AFL anti-doping tribunal after being issued with show-cause notices, they were banned for 12 months in 2016 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CASA) upheld a Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal.

‘There wasn’t one positive drug test out of that whole drug saga and hasn’t been for 10 years,’ Sheedy said.

‘All those players and everyone involved through that period suffered a penalty of suspicion. They were never found guilty in the eyes of positive tests.

Then-Essendon coach James Hird was encouraged to step down from his role by the AFL

Then-Essendon coach James Hird was encouraged to step down from his role by the AFL

Sheedy (right) said Hird, his staff and the players were treated disgracefully by the AFL

Sheedy (right) said Hird, his staff and the players were treated disgracefully by the AFL 

While 2012 Brownlow Medallist Jobe Watson had to return the medal four years later

While 2012 Brownlow Medallist Jobe Watson had to return the medal four years later 

‘It’s 10 years. What do I have to do, wait for another 10 years until I get to 85-years-old until they get exonerated? It’s disgraceful.’

Speaking earlier this year, former AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou struck a similar tone, suggesting the Federal Government deliberately made an example of Essendon players.

Just days after the Bombers scandal emerged, the Australian Crime Commission published the findings of a 12-month investigation into the growing use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports and their links to organised crime.

‘I felt terribly for the players,’ Demetriou said on the Sacked podcast. 

‘I thought they went through a proper process with the AFL tribunal. And the club had been dealt with by the Commission. The people on the tribunal are honourable people, they are ex or current judges.

Former AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou (left) said the Federal Government deliberately chose to make an example out of the AFL and Essendon players

Former AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou (left) said the Federal Government deliberately chose to make an example out of the AFL and Essendon players

‘There is no bias. And then after a period of time to be appealed by CASA […] I felt and I still feel they have all been hard done by. […] 

Demetriou remains convinced the AFL and Essendon were caught in a game of political brinkmanship.  

‘To this day, I’m convinced we were used as political pawns for some political gain,’ he said. 

‘I don’t even know whether that darkest day in sport is connected to the Essendon saga. There is no evidence there is, not that I know of, unless they can produce something.’

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