AFL boss admits dread on Brownlow call

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan admits collective dread if the commission has to make a call on Jobe Watson’s 2012 Brownlow Medal.

If the last-ditch appeal against the Essendon doping suspensions fails, then the commission will decide whether Watson keeps the medal.

That is on hold until the appeal verdict is handed down in Switzerland, most likely later this year.

“Everyone involved, if they had to make that decision, would dread it,” McLachlan told AFL360.

“I think the people charged with the responsibility of making that decision will not have made a more difficult decision – not just in their time in football, but almost in their lives,” McLachlan told AFL360.

“I don’t want to over-dramatise it, but that will be as hard a decision as anyone on the commission has had to make, I’m sure of it.”

Watson is among 34 current and past Essendon players who are appealing their doping suspensions.

The bans relate to the Bombers’ 2011-12 supplements debacle.

When the bans were confirmed earlier this year, the AFL announced the commission would meet to make a call on whether Watson should keep the Brownlow.

But that commission meeting was deferred when the Swiss appeal was launched.

Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner again said on Anzac Day that the Bombers think Watson should keep the Brownlow.

But the prevailing view is that if the commission has to make the call, it will strip the Essendon captain of the medal.

McLachlan also said on Tuesday night that he would not be involved in the commission’s decision.

“If it comes to that, I will excuse myself because I think there are conversations that I’ve had (where) I could look potentially conflicted now,” he said.

“Given I have had conversations with different people – potentially Jobe or others – I don’t want to be in a position where I find myself accused of being not truly independent.

“Hopefully no-one would think I’m trying to shirk that dreadful responsibility.

“But … to perform my function as chief executive in the lead-up and during, I need to have conversations which would mean that I don’t necessarily look like I come in with clean hands.”

McLachlan, then the deputy to Andrew Demetriou at the league, was heavily involved in negotiations through 2013 after the supplements scandal became a massive AFL issue.

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