Retired Essendon great Dustin Fletcher has spoken of the frustration and embarrassment caused by the anti-doping ban that continues to affect his daily life even after his departure from the AFL.
Fletcher, who retired at the end of last season after 400 AFL games, is one of 34 past and present Bombers players currently serving ASADA bans for their part in the club’s 2012 supplements program.
The suspensions, most of which run until November this year, exclude current players from taking part in club-sanctioned football-related activities.
But it has also keeps Fletcher from pursuing professional opportunities in other sports and even places restrictions on what he is allowed to do when he attends his son’s football games with TAC Cup side, the Calder Cannons.
Fletcher remains unclear about exactly what he can and can’t do under the terms of the ban, with his father Ken describing the restrictions on him watching his son play as ludicrous and an absolute joke.
“Once your footy is all done and dusted it’s probably a hard time anyway, but just to have this still hovering in the background and obviously not be allowed to do certain things … it just makes it that little bit more difficult,” Fletcher told The Sunday Footy Show.
“It is more frustrating … you’ve probably been angry really for four years, it’s been that long an event, but I think it is nearly done.
“We will move on when the appeal gets handed down.”
The banned players have launched an appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict that saw the suspensions enforced with a Swiss court to hear the case later this year.
Fletcher says he still counts former coach James Hird as a friend and holds no ill will toward the club but agrees mistakes were made by all parties involved.
Although he doesn’t believe he would do anything different if he had his time over.
“Obviously as one of those players we probably tried to tick off (supplements that were) WADA approved, ASADA approved, so we probably did all we could in that sense,” he said.
“You think to yourself could I have done anything different? “I still feel a little embarrassed when I go out because you probably withdraw just a little bit because you know it’s been such a massive scandal over a long period of time.”