Essendon doping scandal timeline



After finishing eighth and with an obvious lack of body strength, coach James Hird promises an intense pre-season. Essendon recruit fitness coach Dean Robinson and sports scientist Stephen Dank.


Essendon win eight of the first nine games but after a spate of soft-tissue injuries, lose eight of the last nine and finish 11th. Dank is sacked after cost overruns with the supplements program and Robinson receives an official warning.


February 4: Senior Essendon officials hold crisis meeting about the 2012 supplements program.

February 5: Essendon announce they’re self-reporting to ASADA and the AFL about the program. The same day, Robinson is suspended.

February 7: The Australian Crime Commission releases a landmark report into organised crime and Australian sport, labelled “the blackest day in Australian sport” by former ASADA boss Richard Ings.

February 11: Dank says Hird and other senior Essendon officials were aware of the details of the supplements program.

February 27: Essendon announce an independent review into governance at the club, headed by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski.

April 11: Dank says he injected Hird with the banned drug hexarelin, a claim the Essendon coach says is “horrifying”.

May 6: Switkowski hands down his review, finding a “pharmacologically experimental environment” at Essendon in 2012.

May 23: Chief executive Ian Robson resigns and is replaced by Ray Gunston.

June 24: Essendon captain Jobe Watson reveals he believes he was given the banned drug AOD-9604.

July 26: Robinson resigns and plans legal action against the Bombers.

July 27: Chairman David Evans resigns.

July 28: Hird’s legal team accuses the AFL of repeatedly leaking information about the investigations. Paul Little takes over as chairman.

August 2: The AFL receives ASADA’s interim report, but say the investigation is ongoing.

August 13: The AFL charge the Bombers, Hird, senior assistant coach Mark Thompson, football manager Danny Corcoran and club doctor Bruce Reid with bringing the game into disrepute.

August 22: Hird’s lawyers issue a Supreme Court writ, which includes allegations AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and his deputy Gillon McLachlan “tipped off” Essendon that its players had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

August 26: The AFL bans Essendon – which otherwise finished seventh – from the finals. Hird is suspended for 12 months, Corcoran receives a four-month ban and Thompson is fined $30,000. No charges are laid against Reid.

October 10: Essendon confirm Thompson will be 2014 senior coach.


June 12: ASADA issues show cause notices to 34 current and former Essendon players, formally telling them they have a case to answer.

August 11: Federal Court begins hearing Essendon’s challenge to the legality of the joint ASADA-AFL investigation.

September 6: The club’s season finishes with a 12-point elimination final loss to North Melbourne.

September 19: Justice John Middleton rules the joint AFL-ASADA investigation was conducted legally. Little says the club will abide by the decision. Hird later appeals without success.

October 6: Essendon resolve to retain Hird as 2015 coach. Thompson leaves the club the following month.

October 17: ASADA issues amended show-cause notices to the 34 players, detailing evidence they were administered the banned peptide thymosin beta-4 in 2012.

December 15: The anti-doping tribunal gets underway, three years after the doping claims first emerged.


February: Essendon recruit top-up players for the pre-season competition, allowing all remaining players from 2012 to sit it out to protect the identity of those on provisional bans.

March 31: The anti-doping tribunal hands down a not guilty verdict, with chairman David Jones saying the tribunal was not comfortably satisfied any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4 or violated the AFL anti-doping code.

April 17: Dank is found guilty of 10 charges relating to Essendon’s supplement program by the AFL anti-doping tribunal. He later receives a lifetime ban from the sport.

May 12: WADA appeals the anti-doping tribunal’s not guilty finding.

August 3: Hird begins legal action against his insurance company for refusing to pay his $460,000 legal bill.

August 18: A 112-point belting by Adelaide – the club’s 10th loss in 11 matches – is the precursor to Hird leaving the club. Matthew Egan is appointed caretaker coach and the Bombers limp to a 15th-placed finish.

October 5: Former West Coast boss John Worsfold is appointed as Essendon coach on a three-year deal.

November 8: Worksafe Victoria charges Essendon with failing to provide a safe working environment. The club later pleads guilty.

November 16: WADA’s appeal begins in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

November 20: Essendon post a net financial operating loss of $1.3 million.

November 26: The AFL is ordered to give former player Hal Hunter documents relating to the supplements program to help him decide whether to sue for damages.

December 14: Lindsay Tanner replaces Little as Essendon chairman.


January 12: CAS sets aside the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s not guilty verdict and bans the 34 past and present Essendon players for the 2016 season.

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