- Apr 24, 2013
- AFL Club
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- The Unicornia Reactants
This is the most useless and pointless article that has ever been written. He’s trying to mirror facts but it’s basically nothing. Pure rubble.Graham Cornes: Bruce Francis’ dogged fight to clear the names of the Essendon 34
Graham Cornes, The Advertiser
October 18, 2019 6:20pm
“GOT the bastards!” Bruce Francis’ elation at the front-page story by Michael Warner in the Herald Sun accusing ASADA of manipulating evidence in the infamous case of the Essendon 34 was infectious.The former Test opening batsman had worked 18 hours a day for four months, poring over 25,000 photographs of documents, including correspondence between the various parties involved in the sorry saga.
His single purpose — the exoneration those 34 Essendon players who had been suspended on appeal for breaching the WADA drug code.
Jobe Watson speaks to the media on behalf of the Essendon 34 in 2015.
Francis has no Aussie rules background. He grew up in Sydney and is a political science graduate, worked closely with Kerry Packer on World Series Cricket and toured South Africa when apartheid protests isolated and condemned the country.
However, the dilemma of the Essendon players both intrigued and infuriated him. How could 34 players be convicted and suspended on such flimsy, circumstantial and spurious evidence? How could James Hird be treated so poorly and hounded to the point where too many tablets seemed his only relief? How could the AFL, who started the whole mess by insisting the club self-report when there was nothing to report, then try to force a plea bargain, escape culpability?
Francis is constantly angry at how ASADA — the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority — gathered and presented evidence. ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt is a particular target of Francis, who accuses the former head of ASADA of misleading the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Of ill-health and housebound these days, Francis continues to obsess over the plight of the Essendon 34 and their coach, James Hird. Obsession is the only word to describe his almost manic pursuit of justice.
No one Australian has spent more time, exhausted more energy, and indeed insulted and alienated more politicians, journalists and their editors than Francis. His research has been fastidious. Since July 2013, he has laboured 12 to 15 hours a day, written over a million words and compiled 30,000 pages of evidence.
Is he eccentric and occasionally offensive? No doubt, but he has his supporters. Radio legend Alan Jones says of Francis: “He is the most fastidious researcher. I think he has done the most extraordinary job I have ever seen on a subject of this kind. Brilliant and phenomenal don’t do justice to the work.” And Warwick Hadfield from ABC National Radio: “The AFL, in collusion with the Australian Government, decided what the result [of the investigation] was going to be and then worked backwards towards that … This document [Francis’s complaint about ASADA] is important to the future of the AFL and Australian sport.”
Francis is ruthless in his attack on McDevitt. He uses two significant examples to illustrate his lack of faith in McDevitt’s procedural fairness. In 2016, McDevitt told a Senate Estimates Committee: “There were over 100 text messages that unveiled a plan to source Thymosin Beta-4 for the purpose of doping the team.” For nearly a year, Francis pursued the truth to this allegation through a Freedom of Information application until finally, after 348 days, an ASADA lawyer told the Australian Information Commissioner that: “No documents containing the clause ‘Thymosin Beta-4 for the purpose of doping the Essendon players exists.’”
McDevitt also gave evidence that: “In the words of Stephen Dank, Thymosin was the vital cornerstone of that team-based program.” Francis did not believe that statement, pursued the truth of it and claims that on September 6, 2016, ASADA’s national operations manager, Judith Lind, told him: “We have identified that there is no document which says ‘Thymosin was the vital cornerstone of that team-based program.’”
James Hird’s father, Alan, subsequently laid an official complaint against McDevitt, accusing him of misleading the Senate committee. The complaint was dismissed, but that hasn’t curtailed Francis’s zeal to call the former head of ASADA to account.Francis, who makes no secret of his disdain for the cohort of anti-Essendon, anti-Hird journalists and commentators, goes to extraordinary lengths and takes great delight in dismantling what he believes are distorted and prejudiced opinions.
More than one journalist and editor has demanded that he remove their names from his mailing lists.
His attacks on AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, who was at the time tasked with untangling the whole mess after his then boss Andrew Demetriou encouraged Essendon to self-report, have been particularly vicious. But given McLachlan’s well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful intent to see the players exonerated, those attacks seem misguided.
Francis’s best work is his dismantling of the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which saw the players (some of whom had never been injected) suspended. The CAS relied on 16 “strands in the cable of evidence” as key elements in upholding the WADA appeal against the AFL Tribunal’s verdict clearing the players.
Francis assiduously attacks the CAS, at times ridiculing the judgments of its esteemed panel members and shreds the “cable”. Seemingly irrelevant matters like whether players could remember whether Dank was present at away matches, why Dank decided to refer to the substances as an “amino-acid blend” instead of peptides or the CAS’s confusion between the legal form of Thymosin and the not-cleared-for-approval Thymosin Beta-4, are all dissected and refuted by Francis.
ASADA responded to Warner’s front-page expose in a remarkably blasé manner. “Asada strongly denies allegations of evidence manipulation reported in the media”, said the statement, which also emphasised that Thymosin Beta-4, the contentious substance, has never been cleared for human consumption.
But Warner’s and Francis’ argument is that it never appeared on a banned list until after the allegations against Essendon arose. Francis insists that ASADA, WADA and the CAS “changed evidence, planted evidence; omitted evidence.” They are inflammatory accusations, but despite many threats, Francis is yet to be sued for any of his excoriating assessments of his targets. Still, the football world remains divided on this saga. Thirty-four Essendon players will never get their lost year back. James Hird will never get life, as he knew it, back.
On the other hand, hopefully Jobe Watson may one day get his Brownlow Medal back. However, despite the bans, one thing seems increasingly irrefutable. Thirty-four Essendon players were not injected with Thymosin Beta-4.Further, Francis maintains there is no evidence Dank ever took possession of the substance.Watson, in an oblique Twitter post, encouraged people like Warner and Francis to “keep sniffing”.
There is no doubt Bruce Francis will.
That’s pretty much it.Hird and Evans engage Dank to run 'clinical trials' with dodgy substances on professional athletes (the financials are ready), the club doc arcs up, the jabs are moved offsite, the players fail to repot injections to ASADA as required and, whoops, one of the substances is WADA banned. The End.
Hird and Evans engage Dank to run 'clinical trials' with dodgy substances on professional athletes (the financials are ready), the club doc arcs up, the jabs are moved offsite, the players fail to repot injections to ASADA as required and, whoops, one of the substances is WADA banned. The End.
Still, a good Silk could stretch the above facts out for at least six months of hearings.That’s pretty much it.
I too would like to see a Royal Commission into the saga, mainly to answer my questions about that AOD crap that was conveniently swept under the carpet to allow the emphasis to be on the well known peptide Thymosin beta 4. You never really hear any mention of the experimental AOD side of the equation, and I presume (for probably good reasons) we never will.
I remember when we played them and we were ahead for most of the game and then they got a run on and slammed on some quick goals.
One of the Essendon Football Club’s first trainers was a quack doctor, con artist, drug fiend, rapist, burglar and suspected murderer.
The colourful life of Carl von Ledebur is the subject of the latest free episode of the In Black and White podcast.
Von Ledebur claimed to be a doctor and injected the pulverised testicles of animals into patients, supposedly to boost testosterone and other hormones.