Essendon’s 2013 season has been destroyed, and there’s only one tiny detail that everyone seems to have forgotten. The evidence.
Thousands of pieces of paper, months of investigation and hours of interviews, and still no proof that Essendon did anything wrong.
Imagine this was a criminal trial.
Essendon is a person charged with taking drugs.
The AFL has actually said, “No player has been found guilty of taking a performance-enhancing drug.”
However you’re still found guilty.
Compared to Lance Armstrong, these allegations are less than nothing.
In America this year, some of the best baseball players have returned positive tests and admitted to taking banned substances. They got off more lightly than the Essendon Football Club.
We don’t treat convicted criminals this poorly, let alone someone who was never proven guilty.
Months ago when this story first broke the headlines screamed, ‘The blackest day in Australian sport.’
Utter garbage. It was just another day in Australian sport where a minuscule scandal was blown out of all proportion because in Australia, footy sells a lot more papers than politics, and only slightly less than anything to do with members of the Royal Family, dead or alive.
Essendon may be guilty of giving their players a performance enhancing substance. So what? If the AFL bans all performance enhancing substances, that means they’re also going to have to outlaw bananas, Gatorade and training.
Which means I’ve been preparing to play AFL for years. With my strict regime of beer, pies and not exercising.
There have also been allegations that James Hird took a banned substance. Who cares?
He’s a coach, not a player. He can inject heroin wrapped in cocaine and ice into his eyeballs, and he’s still not breaking the anti-doping code.
The way James Hird has been treated through this whole saga is another disgrace.
He was part of a group trying to get the most out of their players, and went about it in questionable ways.
Despite intense pressure, throughout it all he has handled himself with aplomb, and was a great and fair footballer who is widely liked. You don’t hear the supporters of any clubs calling for his head. Only journalists chasing headlines.
If he’s such a terrible guy, why has Essendon already offered him a contract for 2014 and beyond?
Most of the outrage seems to have been caused not by the substance, but how it was administered. Injecting anything sounds bad.
If the supplements were provided in powder form, strawberry or banana flavoured, and mixed in a shaker cup with soy milk, I’m certain none of this would be an issue.
Let’s not forget that the AFL only uncovered this whole thing because Essendon approached them. They came forward with concerns about their own supplements program.
A drug addict who gives himself up to the police is sent for rehabilitation, not to jail.
The proper thing for the AFL to do would have been to hand out some fines, possibly take away some draft picks, and explain that the next organisation caught doing something similar was really going to cop it.
The AFL actually acknowledges that the Bombers, “did not deliberately set out to break the rules.”
However with their constant press releases, the AFL created so much smoke around this issue that the whole country has been covered in it for months. They had to produce a fire, so have been running around collecting twigs and are now pretending it’s a forest.
From the moment this story broke, the AFL has assumed that Essendon were guilty, and they had to penalise Essendon harshly, otherwise they would’ve looked like fools.
The main charge against Essendon is that they brought the game into disrepute. Which is basically saying that they made the game look bad.
If the AFL were serious about penalising clubs for that, why are so many players allowed to have such horrible haircuts and neck tattoos?
Why did they pick orange and grey as the colours for GWS?
Why are Melbourne still allowed to play at all?
Why do they let so many drunk people wear football scarves?
Most importantly, why do the AFL take so much advertising money from the alcohol and gambling companies?
The AFL are bullies. It’s a dictatorship run by people only interested in getting as much positive press as possible for themselves. They have a product we all want, and so much power that they get to do whatever they like.
After what they’ve put the footballers, club and supporters through with this ongoing saga, where are the penalties for the AFL?
In the way they have handled this issue, the AFL have done much more to damage the game than Eseendon ever could.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. (www.xaviertoby.com)
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