Essendon boss apologises in wake of report

Last updated 16:13 06/05/2013
David Evans
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ACCEPTING BLAME: Essendon chairman David Evans.

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Essendon Chairman David Evans has apologised for what happened on his "watch" as he responded to a report into a controversial supplements program at the club last year.

The Switkowski Report has not called for anyone at the club be sacked, though it states: "The CEO must be accountable for everything that happens within his organisation."

The report provides 12 recommendations, and Evans has said that many of them are already being implemented.

Responding to the release of the report at a press conference at Windy Hill, Evans apologised for what he called "institutional failing" at the club, and has said there will be "ongoing changes" at the club to implement the report's recommendations.

"I feel that our football club is on notice now as far as this report goes to make some changes, and we will," he said.

"I think this is an uncomfortable report, as it probably should be. An uncomfortable report for the football club.''

Evans also said that he would go to an election at the earliest possible time, and that Essendon members would make the call whether or not he remains on the board of the football club.

"The buck does stop with me," he said.

"I am chairman of the board, this has happened under my watch. I will go to an election at the earliest possible time, which will be November of this year."

The report, which comes after an internal review into irregular practices at Essendon, centred on governance issues relating to last year's "pharmacologically experimental environment" at the club.

The terms of reference for Dr Switkowski's review were from November 2011 to August 2012.

Switkowski's report recommended that any pioneering work with supplements and exotic treatments should be left to the Australian Sports Commission.

''At a club level, this is not an area for risk management but for zero tolerance,'' said the report.

''A club's pharmacology skills should not normally be independently and secretly developed as a source of competitive advantage.

''And an arms race for the most sophisticated molecules must be prohibited.''

The report also found that:

- Essendon's club doctor should be the signing authority for all medicines, supplements, diagnostic tests and therapeutic treatments.

- Treatment by injection, and IV drips, may be justified so blanket bans are not recommended.

- There may be a case for the employment of full time medical staff but this needs to be balanced against the advantages of part time doctors.

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- Risk assessment and mitigation, while already part of the core board agenda, should be re-examined.

- The board agenda should also be modified to cover issues around player welfare and treatments.

A full version of the report will be made available to the AFL, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Essendon board.

A parallel review, led by ASADA and the AFL into the nature of supplements administered by Essendon and their level of compliance with anti-doping codes, is ongoing.

''This was a no-go area for this report,'' read the Switkowski report.

''Questions about the pharmacology of certain supplements, their possible performance-affecting properties, compliance or otherwise with anti-doping codes etc are issues for the AFL and ASADA investigations, which still have some way to go.

''This review and report needed to be conducted in a manner careful not to inadvertently compromise their work.''

Essendon players are set to be interviewed by ASADA this week.

- The Age

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