Essendon coach Thompson rejects cancer fears

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 17:21 04/07/2014
Mark Thompson
Getty Images
NO HEALTH RISK: Essendon coach Mark Thompson says his players have been briefed by club officials regarding the supplements given to them.

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Essendon coach Mark Thompson insists his players aren't facing health risks over the club's 2012 supplements program, despite revelations the AFL was monitoring them over fears  of cancer and hormonal problems.

Thompson said today the Essendon players had been extensively briefed by club officials regarding the supplements  given to them.

''I think it's OK. The players have been communicated to by specialists and the drugs, the supplements that we have given the  players, they know that they're not harmful,'' Thompson said.

''There's no risk. One actually helps in part of the treatment  for cancer.

''So we haven't got a problem there at all as far as our communication and our players' awareness of what's healthy and  what's not.''

The league had arranged for special testing of samples from Essendon players during 2012, months before the club's supplements  scandal broke.

Video evidence emerged this week of a speech from AFL medical officer Peter Harcourt last November at an anti-doping conference.

Harcourt told the conference in Zurich about the overseas testing and said he was setting up a program to monitor the players involved in the supplements regime because of fears they might  contract cancer or have other hormonal problems.

Essendon chairman Paul Little has called for the AFL to consider a sanction for Harcourt and to establish whether the doctor had broken league rules.

Thompson described Harcourt's speech as damaging.

''I'm in line with the club. It's pretty poor, a poor  reflection,'' Thompson said.

''The club, they've already said publicly that they would like  [an explanation].

''To me it's already done.

''An apology, what does that mean? Nothing.

''The damage has been done already.''

The AFL Players' Association has slammed Harcourt for suggesting there was a passive acceptance by the players of the club's supplements program.

Asked if the players were insulted, Thompson said: ''You'd think they would be. But I can't answer for them.''

Essendon's 34 past and present players facing doping accusations  will not join a court battle against ASADA's investigation into the club's 2012 supplement program.

The players fear being publicly named if they formally join  Essendon and suspended coach James Hird in their bid to discredit  the ASADA and AFL probe, the players' barrister David Grace QC told  the Federal Court today.

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Thompson said he was pleased the players would retain their confidentiality.''That's their right so they deserve it,'' he said.

- AAP

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