By MAMAMIA TEAM
We’re not naming names but overheard this week in the Mamamia office was one (non-footy loving) staff member asking ‘What’s an Essendon’?
And we suspect that there are more than a few of us who watched the news last night or clicked to a story this morning and were left a bit baffled by what is going on in the AFL.
So we’ve put together this handy Essendon Football Club doping scandal cheatsheet (no pun intended) for those of you who don’t normally follow the footy or are beholden to a different code.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Who are Essendon and what exactly did they do wrong?
The Essendon Football Club are an AFL team that is based in Melbourne and have existed since 1871. They have won 16 premierships, which is the equal highest number of any club in the AFL. Their nickname is the Bombers or the Dons. For the fashion-inclined amongst us, their colours are red and black.
It is widely understood (despite some investigations remaining unfinished) that Essendon players took peptides during 2012. Basically, peptides are a chain of amino acids that are the ‘building blocks’ which create protein. When taken in supplement form they can be used to build muscle mass, helping athletes recover more quickly after injury.
Peptides are used extensively by the body building community but are a banned substance in most professional sports, including the AFL. Their usage is very difficult to detect, particularly for the most common form of athlete drug tests which rely on urine samples.
The full list of charges against Essendon (a whole 34 pages of them) were released last week by the AFL. The allegations included substances being brought back to Australia from China by a convicted drug dealers, an ongoing program of banned substances being injected into players and a ‘scare’ for coach James Hird after he was personally injected with a particular substance.
So what was yesterday’s press conference all about?
The AFL held a press conference last night, which is dominating media coverage today. They have been considering whether the Essendon Football Club, had ‘brought the game intro disrepute’ by taking performance enhancing drugs.
Last night Essendon pleaded guilty to bringing the game into disrepute. And as a result the are copping some punishments, which include:
– A $2 million fine by the AFL to be imposed on the club (the largest fine in the AFL’s history);
– Essendon will be excluded from playing finals this year, despite being ranked high enough on the ladder to do so prior to the sanctions being imposed;
– Essendon’s football operations manager will be suspended for six months and the senior assistant coach will be fined $30,000
– Essendon’s coach, James Hird will not be allowed to work for the AFL or any AFL club in any capacity for the next 12 months; and
– The club will forfeit part of their entitlement to pick up some of the best new young players who are entering the competition for the first time next year.
But why is that significant? $2 million is a lot, sure, but is it really that big of a deal for a football club?
The penalties applied have wide ranging implications for Essendon.
A team of young footballers – who have dedicated their every waking moment to this sport – won’t get to play in the finals. And because no individual player has been charged at this stage, it’s almost inevitable that players who have done absolutely nothing wrong, will suffer because of the actions of others.