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Jobe Watson is an AFL player for the Essendon Bombers, and is one of those embroiled in the drugs scandal. He is the reigning Brownlow medallist, and this controversy may result in the medal being taken off him.
So what exactly has happened so far?
Earlier this year, a story broke that Essendon AFL players were injected with unknown substances during the 2012 season. Essendon invited the AFL and the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to investigate the practices of the club.
Stephen Dank and High Performance Coach Dean “The Weapon” Robinson were stood down by the club in February, as they were deemed responsible for the injection program.
There had been a noticeable increase in the size of the players and apparently some in the AFL community – particularly other clubs – had become suspicious. Carlton became so suspicious they tried to secretly tape Nima Alavi, the provider of the chemicals injected into the Essendon players.
The problems engulfing both the AFL and NRL codes evidently crossed into other codes as well. And it wasn’t just drugs – links with underworld figures appeared almost common. As were allegations of match-fixing. Jason Clare was the Minister responsible, and provided a number of interviews and press conferences regarding the matter.
In May, Ian Robson (the CEO of Essendon) resigned from the club, after initially offering his resignation in February when the story broke.
During May and June, ASADA interviewed Essendon players and staff. No real details were provided to the public, and the interviews affected the players – losing to the Brisbane Lions.
Jobe Watson has since been targeted specifically because he is the captain of the club and the reigning Brownlow medalist. On Monday the 24th of June he was interviewed by Gerard Healy on the TV show, On The Couch. Jobe Watson surprised the interviewers and viewers by stating that he did believe that he was administered the drug AOD 9604 which is banned by WADA and therefore ASADA. This is in stark contrast the the Bombers’ denial of any wrongdoing.
As a result of his honesty, Jobe Watson has been attacked by supporters from other clubs and the media in general.
But what has really happened?
Most people already believed that the players had been administered the drug AOD 9604 – so Jobe’s belief that he was given the drug is not a massive surprise. While it doesn’t confirm absolutely that he was given the drug, it certainly indicates that it was quite likely.
What many people fail to take into account, is that there are suggestions that WADA has only recently listed AOD 9604 as a banned substance. If AOD 9604 was not banned before it was taken, then punitive action would be quite difficult. It would seem unlikely that retrospective action can be taken against a substance that was known by WADA – but still not on the banned list.
AOD 9604 has been used for animal purposes – and has not been deemed safe for human consumption. This is the most powerful issue. Players at the club were treated like guinea pigs, and that is likely to be the real reason Ian Robson offered his resignation. Will others follow? Probably. But the investigation has not been completed.
If the players are found to have breached WADA and ASADA, then it seems likely that Jobe Watson will lose the Brownlow medal to second place getter Trent Cotchin. The Bombers are likely to have Premiership Points docked (possibly forcing them to miss finals), and hefty financial penalties will be imposed. Not to mention the difficulty in fielding a full AFL team.
When the Bombers recently played the West Coast Eagles in Perth, the crowd loudly booed Jobe Watson. Players and commentators were rather unimpressed. Angus Monfries posted the following Tweet.
Poor taste by WCE fans at Subiaco tonight!!
— Angus Monfries (@AngusMonfries) June 27, 2013
Clearly this issue is polarising to the community and to fans of this great game. From this end – and that of the AFL, commentators and past players, is that we should let the course run. See if the players get sanctioned. See if the Bombers have crossed lines. If they have broken rules, then through the book at them. But only when the investigation is complete.