Chip Le Grand over at the Australian is trying to defend a colleague by omission:
The formal charges against Essendon and its officials, publicly announced by Dillon on August 13, were preceded by regular, damaging leaks to the Fairfax press which portrayed Hird as the architect and chief proponent of the club’s supplements program.
That’s a reference to Caroline Wilson of The Age. But what about the Australian’s very own Patrick Smith – he too was receiving information and pushing the AFL line.
To remind ourselves the story has now taken a far more sinister turn:
But the AFL’s preparedness to privately offer Hird inducements while publicly prosecuting the case against him smacks of hypocrisy. The boys’ club method of resolving the crisis also raises fresh questions for ASADA, the government-funded anti-doping body which took the unprecedented step of allowing the AFL to partner its investigation into Essendon and access highly sensitive information normally subject to strict confidentiality provisions.
The Herald Sun is calling for a public inquiry.
We have found evidence of inducements offered to suspended coach James Hird that make a mockery of assurances by AFL chief Andrew Demetriou that Hird would not be paid for his time out of football.
The former Essendon champion was ultimately persuaded to accept being banned from the game for a year, but with a guarantee he would not be dropped from the AFL Hall of Fame, he would receive his full salary while he studied abroad in what was described as an “outstanding career development opportunity and he would not be charged with bringing the game into disrepute. In return, the Brownlow medallist would not proceed with potentially damaging action in the Supreme Court.
In the view of the Herald Sun and borne out by our investigation, this was essential to the AFL, already secretly split in the highly-secret negotiations that were unknown to some members of the AFL Commission.
Sounds like James Hird got the better of that deal – I just wonder why the AFL don’t want to be in court?
Anyway – with all this scandal swirling around the AFL, ASADA and their go-to journalists, you’d think that Smith would keep his head down. But no – just can’t help himself.
It is common practice for the AFL to negotiate settlements for the most serious of rule and behavioural breaches. …
What is so wrong about Fitzpatrick and Little using Wylie as their go-between is the startling conflict of interest it created. …
But then Smith tries to have a bob each way.
It is unimportant that the AFL was seeking a penalty on lack of governance and ASADA was searching for possible use of banned drugs. Wylie, because of his expansive position in Australian sport, was the wrong choice for the job.
That the final penalties were not settled by the full commission until a week later matters little either.
So allegedly offering people inducements to accept penalties doesn’t matter, just the person who negotiated the package should have been someone else? Really?
Then we read this:
If inducements were on the table you would question why Hird was sanctioned at all.
Like monkeys writing Shakespeare, Smith has finally managed to produce something intelligent. Pity he doesn’t pursue that thought. He still manages to whack Hird – “Hird is in danger of blotching his reputation yet again.” This is despite him realising what is going on:
Offers of overseas study trips and career acceleration among other things are nothing but bribes.
But it is Hird who looks bad? Smith is trying too hard to run interference for the AFL.
It looks like the previous government and the AFL stuffed up so badly and got themselves in so much trouble that they’ve had to pay top dollar to stay out of court.