Essendon Drug Crisis – results announced

I met with my snout from the AFL on the 48 tram this evening, and as planned,  he slipped me the Outcome Management run sheet for the Essendon drug crisis. It has a multinational law firm letterhead and it was long, detailed, and full of hand written additions. Rather than type it out in full, verbatim, I’ll take you through the important bits and then give you the outcome so you don’t have to wait until Tuesday August 20 to find out what happens. That’s the date thats down here for ASADA to release their findings, which are also on the run sheet. So here it is, we have

Brief: Ensure that Essendon players do not, repeat do not get a 2 year suspension.

First steps – discovery:

  1. Meet channel 7 and Fox and establish what is the most number of weeks that they will accept no Essendon without tearing up the Broadcast rights agreement – Handwritten answer is two.
  2. Meet ASADA and establish theoretical circumstances under which Essendon players can get a 6 month suspension, prior to allowing any investigation to commence.

Stage 2 – Planning:

  1. Keep Dean Robinson out of the picture. Do whatever is necessary. He is the one with the facts that could get the all the players two years without any way out.
  2. Intervene in the unfortunate Switkowski-report process to ensure it concedes nothing that is not already known.
  3. Establish the target state outcomes in line with ASADA response. Decide where/who to assign culpability. (Target state outcomes detailed here but let me take you through the release schedule rather than just tell you at this stage).
  4. Meet with ASADA and discuss timelines. Frame program so it runs until Tuesday August 20.
  5. Establish a detailed schedule for players to confess in an open and co-operative manner everything that the evidence would have turned up anyway.
  6. Schedule information release to shape public opinion and reaction so target state outcomes are seen as a responsible and proper result.
  7. Tell clubs process is off limits for debate. Remind them their Broadcast Rights money is at stake

Stage 3 – Release Schedule:

  1.  Have Robsen resign. A head is called for
  2. Run ‘players may sue club stories’. Necessary to focus attention on the club not the players at the outset.
  3. Have everyone involved say how disturbed they are at every opportunity. Hird in particular.
  4. Raise the prospect that the enquiry has a long way to go an the results probably wont be ready until probably July, August – ‘ASADA sets the time-frame but AFL keen to have matter resolved before finals’.
  5. Maintain obfuscation and doubt over illegality of 9604
  6. Get the meme ‘no judgements should be made until all the facts are known’ out there. Make sure other club officials run this line.
  7. Use Jobe Watson as the ‘decency centrepiece’.
  8. Have Tim Watson float the idea that his son might lose his Brownlow.
  9. Jobe Watson to confess to using 9604 on TV. Jobe to ensure that he links this use to club doctor Reid. Jobe to maintain that Reid told him it was legal, but that he was personally uncomfortable with it.
  10. Hird to express surprise at confession. All other parties to express surprise.
  11. ‘no judgements should be made until all the facts are known’ meme to be run particularly hard at this stage. This is to be standard answer to all questions about Watson being immediately suspended, as per agreement with ASADA.
  12. Demetriou not to discuss this matter with the press. Too unpredictable.
  13. Have Mark Evans asked the question by AFL media ‘Could Essendon lose points’. Evans to answer that is a possibility, and to set off a discussion about whether teams they have played should get the 4 points for the win or wether Essendon should just be stripped of all points.
  14. Shape the public discussion about what punishment Essendon the club should be getting. Use blogs and social media hard on this point.
  15. Bury all stories about AFL’s former hard line on performance enhancing drugs. Squash this on social media
  16. Float the idea that there may be a loss of draft picks to Essendon. Use analytics to measure public response by the end of July.
  17. Have the McLaughlan announce “We’re committed to bringing this investigation to an end with ASADA in August, prior to the finals series.” Hand written note with todays date – ‘unfortunate quote today from McLaughlan “We’re committed to getting the right outcome.” Need to bury this if media picks it up, he is as arrogant as Demetriou.’
  18. Have ASADA announce that their findings will be delivered on Tuesday August 20 – rounds 22 and 23 to be completed.
  19. Run absolutely flat out on the ‘no judgements should be made until all the facts are known’ meme now, end is in sight, all reasonable people will be in agreement that we should wait and hear results.
  20. Leak in general all the results during this period to pre-empt debate but emphatically argue that everything at this stage is speculation.

Stage 4 – Outcome:

  1. Club is held responsible for misleading players, evidence proves that club was culpable in leading the players into illegal drug taking. Reid to back this up, with the caveat that he thought 9604 was of ‘unassigned’ status.
  2. While players are ultimately responsible they maintain they were completely mislead, and since discovering that they have done everything in their power to assist ASADA
  3. Players to receive 6 month suspension from competition, effective August 20.
  4. Watson stripped of 2012 Brownlow.
  5. Fine of one million dollars payable to AFLPA fund.
  6. Points in all games Essendon played zeroed, all scores to be zeroed, ladder adjusted accordingly.
  7. Final two Essendon games are byes for Carlton and Richmond respectively.
  8. Hird suspended from ‘AFL Activities’ for 6 months
  9. Reid suspended indefinitely from any AFL club position
  10. Thompson suspended from attending matches for 12 months.
  11. No draft pick sanction

Well you know what – of course I made that all up, but as any world weary detective will tell you – you can forget the eye witness account – completely unreliable, circumstantial evidence will take you straight to your man every time. So when this is exactly what unfolds, you read it first here at the FootyAlmanac.



  1. The Wrap says

    So far you’re spot on Neil. I have Bomber fans who swear it’s a done deal. I’d only re-write one bit: the byes. I’d love the Tigers to have a crack at The Scum in Round XXIII. What a sellout that would be. (AD take note) A new attendance record at The G, as The Football World vents its spleen at the arrogance of the lying cheating smart-arses.

    And The Silvertail Faithful – who suffered dreadfully at the hands of the AFL – would feel the same way. They’d love to have their chance as well. I can feel a petition coming on.

    Make that two re-writes. They lose draft picks retrospectively. That means Joe The Messiah Daniher goes back into the pool. That should get ’em something to whingy about out on Windy Hill.

  2. The morally ambivalent AFL are now swimming in the deep end of the pool and not even an odiously compliant media can get them out of this mess. To WADA, the AFL is a pissy little tin-pot.

    On penalties, what Essendon is alleged to have done dwarfs Carlton’s salary cap breaches – breaches that saw us bent over and punished for the best part of ten years.

    I’ll be watching with interest as to what penalties Essendon gets – anything that doesn’t screw them over for the next twenty years will see me go all Elvis on my television set.

    Also in the likely event the AFL screws this up six ways from Sunday, can we assume that the Demetriou-McLachlan succession plan is no longer a cosy little field of buttercups…?

  3. Neil Belford says

    Penalties will be largely as described, unless the article by Mark Robinson in todays Herald Sun gets some traction.
    The AFL will move heaven and earth to have the findings released in August so they can have Essendon back on the field in Round 1 2014.
    If ASADA steps out of line and delays the hearings so they can subpoena Stephen Danks and Dean Robinson under the new federal laws (to come into in August) then everything turns to custard for the AFL.

  4. If the players get suspensions, there is no way they can resume in 2013 as the suspensions must be served during competition time. Assuming the lightest they get is six months and we include March, best case is September 2014… fair to say it’s unlikely we’ll see them at the pointy end of the season should penalties apply.

    As for Essendon saying they’ll keep any suspended player on the payroll, WASADA may need to have a word to them about suspended athletes not able to earn a living from sport during their suspension.

    The AFL’s carnival of egos is about to come to a grinding halt.

  5. Love to hear more of and by Adrian Anderson who so quickly moved on….to Dave Warner’s Integrity Division!
    …and Paul Hamilton?

  6. Neil , i reckon your Stage 4 – Outcome may well be what should happen , but i’d be suspecting there’ll be one big whitewash apart from a bit of wrist-slapping . Script already written. One or two non-players at Windy Hill will cop all the blame , maybe lose their jobs , the club will cop a none too onerous fine and that will be it.. No players sanctioned , no loss of Premiership points , no suspension of golden-haired Hird. Big carpet , big broom , big sweep. Hope my scepticism proven misplaced ,but doubt it. Too much revenue at stake.

  7. Daniel

    WADA doesn’t give a rusty fk about the AFL’s revenue – they’ve fried much bigger fish than the Essendon Football Club (ref Armstrong, Lance; Jones, Marion).

    If the AFL tries to sweep this under the rug (surely they’re not ‘that’ stupid…?) than WADA will pull that rug from underneath them.

  8. Brad Carr says

    Very well written, Neil. And you’re dead right about the way the cynical way they try to run ideas like “loss of points” up the flagpole via the media, to gauge the level of public acceptance (you’re dead right about all of it, actually). Clearly the concept of “principle” has no place in the eyes of the AFL.

    The club has run a systematic doping programme, and deserves a long, long stint in the wilderness (should be forced to break up their current playing list, rebuild it with draft picks 100-140, and then lose their top 2 picks for each of the next 10 years). I have a bit more sympathy for the players (at least the young ones – an 18 year-old desperate to impress is going to whatever he’s told), and don’t mind them getting some leniency if the cheating club gets its just desserts.

    But in reality, he opposite will happen – the AFL will let the club (and their coach) off, whereas WADA/ASADA will deal more strenously with the ones that are within jurisdiction: the players.

  9. Ed harcourt says

    Point well made. I thought of this when I read Evans latest comments suggesting that because AOD is not performance enhancing (where is the evidence for this, not “opinion”) that Essendon have done nothing wrong. Essendon’s arrogance in systematic doping has been franked by their willingness to weasel as you’ve satired. I hope the book is thrown, and I’m glad I’m not alone in noting their exercise in spin.

  10. simontiger says

    So if it all unfolds exactly as outlined we know you really were slipped some info on the tram yesterday.

    If it doesn’t – well I guess that means the AFL were forced to tweak their script in reaction to this article.

  11. That, simontiger, is the sort of thinking we love at the Almanac.

  12. cowshedend says

    Ed, Evans is 100% correct in saying AOD is not performance enhancing , after all how many white lab rats made it onto AFL lists last year?

  13. Neil Belford says

    Evans is acting on Point 19 according to the schedule. I am still waiting to see if ASADA has the temerity to not conform to the schedule the AFL has set it and interview Danks under their new powers. This is the real test as to whether this whole thing is a sham or not.

  14. Wonder if this was in the running sheet – – if Hird doesn’t get suspended it’s a joke.

  15. simontiger says

    If your “sports scientists” inject things into your players that could get you into trouble and have unknown side effects – is it better or worse that they are not performance enhancing?

  16. Right on the money, Neil. Now if you have a spare moment or two can you send me your equivalent rundown of the corruption consequences at FIFA? I am assuming you are secretly employed by Wikileaks.

  17. Barb Smith says

    After reading “Players’ union slams Dons” in today’s Age, I went scurrying back to Neil’s Primary Source. Is public opinion being sought? (item #14). I’d like to start a lobby group called “Smack them Around and then Crucify them.”

  18. Just watching drama queen Whateley and damnfool Robinson “interviewing” Demetriou on Fox tv. The whitewash is underway i reckon . Said it was likely 2 weeks ago. Not saying i told you so nyah nyah , am saying this is what a serious sceptic concluded . Roy Hay above mentions corruption at FIFA . There’s the I.O.C. to point at too. WADA may not give a stuff about AFL revenue as Litza says , but nowt they can do if ASADA lets the Bombers off on a technicality. Like lawyers getting a guilty bloke off on a technicality i guess.

  19. What a load of rubbish. Essendon haven’t take steroids, or human growth hormones nor stimulants. They have only asked questions.about Steve Danks issuing players with 9604. 9604 is a banned drug allegedly used for anti-obesity. It dehydrates the body,it doesn’t stimulate, it doesn’t make you grow ten toned musles nor does it give you superhuman strength. Most Essendon players were on the injury.list.last year, therefore coming 12th how.can

    Other clubs used saline players ie Brisbane lions when they won the three peat; yet they had no sanctions.

    I make no.assumptions.unless.the.drugs they used.created a.disadvantage for.other teams or an advantage for Essendon, no.points should be.lost

Leave a Comment