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Brownlow Medallist
Nov 11, 2005
AFL Club
who/what is/was a bruce francis?
Ex-Australian Test Cricketer (he made 210 in a tour match on the 1972 Ashes Tour) who stuck his nose into the whole putrid doping debacle & didn't exactly cover himself in glory.

Congrats to fmurphy30 on such a thorough post on what was without doubt the lowest point the AFL has experienced in my lifetime.


All Australian
Dec 16, 2015
AFL Club
Sorry guys, I don't post much but this issue gets my goat and there are a few things I want to get off my chest. Please bear with me for a long post.

The delusion around the Essendon thing really gets me...

The H/Sun needs to stop sending out feeders for their sponsorship dollars and accept the facts. There is no conspiracy against the EFC and the players were not set up or hard done by. There was a good article from Greg Baum in The Age about the recent crap the H/Sun ran with. In effect, Baum commented that the drugs were banned at the time they were taken and only moved onto the published list for all to see just prior to the scandal. That meant their absence prior to the listing made them no less banned and EFC knows it.

Then The Advertiser follows up with a Graham Cornes special celebrating Bruce Francis...

Bruce Francis. Is there a greater self-fornicator in the history of this saga? The guy is so deluded and unhinged it is embarrassing. Even EFC stopped returning his calls and then (according to him) they were part of the "conspiracy". He likes to declare his independence but fails to mention he is Alan Hird's mate and Hird is desperate to make up with his estranged son. Somehow he thinks saying every stupid thing that comes into his head to the media will help with this.

I've read as widely as possible on this thing and its amazing how much gets lost. We should have a FAQ for the deluded on BF.

Were EFC ripped off by the AFL?

Ummm. No. The AFL and ASADA made mistakes. This is true. ASADA's were often due to a lack of funding and a lack of diplomacy. The AFL's were in trying to protect EFC from itself. EFC were found, on balance, to have used TB4. Francis recently got on his high horse about McDevitt saying there was an admission on this and he sought these documents from ASADA under FOI. Nothing there. Why not? Cornes says conspiracy but the simple explanation was Dank admitted this to The Age before it all became a story. This was the story he threatened to sue over. ASADA doesn't have the material, it is in the public domain!

What did EFC do?

More crack than Harlem by the look of it. TB4 was the smoking gun because they had 34 who had signed a form saying they used it AND remembered in interviews having used it or discussing using it. Any player who didn't do both (sign the form AND remember its use) wasn't charged.

Let's not forget there were about 13 drugs linked with the club and NO records. It was an "experiment" according to Ziggy (in the famous in-house EFC report, never released because it was too damning). What does any scientist do when conducting an experiment? Keep records. Where were the records? Sorry, it's the ol' 'dog ate my homework' defence. And they were serious with this! It doesn't work for 4th graders but the world is expected to accept this? Joke.

What about the Mexican drug? Remember that? Left by a muscular dystrophy patient at the clinic used by Dank off site to 'treat' players. The drug promotes muscle growth. Dank found it and randomly jabbed it into who knows at the club. Nothing to see here?

What about AOD-9604? It was banned. EFC got off on a technicality. Dank sent an email to ASADA with a number of drugs he wanted to use. AOD on this list. ASADA employee confirms the most prominent of the listed items was okay, but remains silent on the others. Dank replies with something to the effect of "Thanks for confirming all listed items are okay". He knew what he was doing and ASADA dropped the ball. They could had prosecuted on this (and probably won under 'strict liability') but the outrage from the public would have been used. None of the EFC nuffies comment on this!

Did Demetriou commit a crime?

Likely no, but Hird is desperate to have him put away. I have no doubt Demetriou tipped off his mate (Evans) about the investigation and urged him to go public to save face. This isn't illegal unless Demetriou was given confidential information from authorities that EFC was the culprit. He wasn't (at least not explicitly). If anyone recalls, he asked the question in a meeting with the brass and was told (by Andruska IIRC) "Say no more".

This is not an admission. Not technically. Therefore, he wasn't breaking the law with his (likely similarly cryptic) admissions to Evans. Was it sleazy? Hell yeah. It doesn't put him behind bars though.

Is Hird a cheat?

Some may disagree with me on this, but I think probably no. Not in the outrageous sense of him setting out to do so. He was no victim. He had knowledge of AOD through Evans and invested in the product IIRC. He wanted a sports science program that was cutting edge and he went off the deep end when it went pear shaped.

I think Hird's greatest sin was pride. He is a high achiever and wanted to be successful. Personally, I didn't think he was much of a coach but according to EFC supporters he was the next Jock McHale (or Sheedy in their lingo). I think he stretched what they were doing and turned a blind eye hoping it would all pay off. When it went south, he went into protection mode and pointed the finger at everyone. Hird suffers from the same thing a lot of ex-footy greats do - they get used to having their butts kissed and come to accept it. When the music stopped, Hirdy didn't like being the one without a chair.

I am very curious as to what he was taking when Charters was his personal coach and he won the Brownlow. Same 'supplements' as Woewodin I suppose...

FWIW, I think Thompson, who has his drug problems, was likely one of the ones who was pretty clean. It's clear he stopped the program and didn't approve of it (yeah, yeah, I know. The Geelong thing).

There are no positive tests, they are not guilty!

There was no test for TB4 at the time. If sports bodies could only convict based on positive tests, no cyclist would likely ever be convicted. Drugs use in sport is an arms race. The ones who do it successfully find ways around detection and constantly strive to find new ways to get ahead and get away with it.

Tests aside, there is a truckload of anecdotal, interview and other evidence to convict the players. The most damning evidence is the absence of any testing records for an experimental program! Why? I have it on pretty good authority EFC were told (by the AFL) to dispose of it. I think this is why Dank wanted to go to court. He thought all this would come out. Almost everyone was dirty to some degree on this and many EFC supporters seemed to use this to argue the Cranberries defence ('Everybody else is doing it, so why can't we' - great album). Umm. No. EFC guilty. I won't waste time going over records etc. But you can't get off because you think others are doing drugs too (I'm looking at you Melbourne - being a basket case saved you big time). EFC guilty.

Why 'not guilty' in Australia and 'guilty' overseas?

Not a conspiracy. Arguably both were the correct verdict (as hard as that is to believe). In Australia, we have common law called the Briginshaw Test. In layman's terms, it means the more serious the alleged misdeed, the higher the onus of proof for the accuser. This put all the onus on ASADA to establish EFC cheated. This is difficult to do with no positive tests. This gave rise to the 'links in a chain' claim. The absence of the positive test 'link' meant failure of the ASADA argument. Also the court ruled (probably fairly) The Age article with Dank was inadmissible.

Overseas, WADA (correctly) argued if Briginshaw were used for sport no one would ever be convicted. This was accepted (as was The Age article). Based on the 'strands in a cable' approach (some fray but the majority stay strong), EFC was guilty.

Were the players in on it?

This is maybe the hardest one. I tend to think not, but this doesn't make them innocent. There had to be a 'buy in' of some description (the Zaharakis story of being banished for not being one of the boys might give credence to this) and I think it mighty strange not ONE player told his manager. Not ONE! Why not? Surely a player manager gets concerned and blows the whistle? That worries me.

Why didn't Watson (a fine player and person) question this thing harder? You don't go from 0 jabs a year to hundreds like that. I believe him when he says he did question, but I bet he lies awake at night and asks himself "Did I do enough?" He should. They all should. I am not without sympathy but them's the rules. They took the poison, they take the pain.

The above spiel is a vastly over simplified explanation, but one none of the papers have ever bothered to even do that. Mainly because they don't understand it.
Excellent summary. My only query is around whether the players were in on it.

My understanding is that they need to divulge any “supplements” they’ve had to ASADA when they’re tested. Even things like cough and cold medicine.

So they’ve been taken offsite and injected with “stuff” and they don’t think this needs to be mentioned to the testers?


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Norm Smith Medallist
Jan 6, 2015
AFL Club
Article in HUN today.

“One of Essendon Football Club’s first trainers was a quack doctor, drug fiend, rapist, burglar and suspended murderer”. “injected pulverised testicles of animals into patients”.
History repeats............
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