As he watched the packed media conference off camera on February 5th 2013, no doubt concerned for where the game he had fostered as CEO of the AFL for 10 years was about to head; Andrew Demetriou would have been very familiar with the man explaining to the cameras his decision to ask the AFL and ASADA to investigate his club – and not just because he was the Chairman of Essendon.
David Evans and Demetriou go back you see. Way back.
When Demetriou made the move from the AFL Players Association to the AFL 15 or so years ago it was Evans’ late father Ron, himself a former Essendon Football Club President and then Chairman of the AFL, who took the former Kangaroo and Hawk under his wing and mentored him in his eventual role as CEO of the AFL. It was only natural that Demetriou would cross paths with Ron’s son David, a rising businessman of similar age.
When David decided to follow in his fathers footsteps in 2009 and take over the leadership at Essendon it was Demetriou who supported him, sending him a “very nice letter of congratulations“.
Demetriou had 2 years earlier spoken warmly at the funeral of Evans Sr, a mark of his closeness to the man and Evans family.
So when Demetriou was briefed in late January 2013 by the Australian Crime Commission on the intelligence that had been gathered about possible doping at an AFL club; while rumors had been swirling for some time about Essendon’s supplements program run by Stephen Dank the previous season; it probably didn’t take Einstein to figure out that the two should have a chat.
What we know for sure is that chat came via phone on the night of February 4 while Evans, Hird and a few key Essendon personnel were meeting at Evans’ home. But from there things get a little fuzzy. One version of events – Hird’s and apparently Essendon Football Manager Danny Corcoran’s – has Evans getting ‘tipped off’ by Demetriou that players at his club had been taking performance enhancing drugs (PED’s).
The other version – Demetriou’s and Evans’, denied that tip off was given. Either way it was news to Hird, who was certain the accusation was incorrect.
You’ve doubtless heard these stories before so there’s no need to detail an entire timeline, but the discussions of that night and meetings at AFL House the next day would lead Essendon to “Self Report” itself to the AFL and ASADA.
The ACC briefing had clearly scared Demetriou, and it appears in turn he’d spooked Evans into that Press Conference, seemingly giving more weight to Demetriou’s concerns than Hird’s. At the least Demetriou, as the AFL CEO, accepted the ‘self report’ and helped organize it and what would follow.
It would turn out to be one of the worst decisions made in the history of Australian sport.
Continue reading Collateral Damage : The mess left behind by Andrew Demetriou & David Evans