Buttifant to help coach banned AFL players

Mick Malthouse’s long-time fitness expert David Buttifant has joined Sean Wellman to coach AFL players serving bans from the Essendon supplements saga.

Eight of the 17 players were seen training on Monday at an Essendon school, with Wellman and Buttifant running the session.

Malthouse had offered to oversee the banned players’ training while they serve their doping bans, which put them out of action for this season.

Buttifant was also part of the Malthouse proposal.

But the players opted for Wellman.

Bombers captain Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Brent Stanton and Western Bulldogs forward Stewart Crameri were among players seen training on Monday at St Bernard’s College.

They are among 12 current Essendon players and five at other clubs who will miss this season because of their anti-doping suspensions.

Some of those 17 players are opting for separate training schedules while under suspension.

There are strict conditions governing the players’ bans.

Wellman and Buttifant can work with them because the pair, like Malthouse, have no direct involvement currently with any AFL clubs.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld WADA’s appeal in January, meaning the 34 current and former Bombers were found guilty of doping.

The players decided earlier this month that they would appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court and that is likely to go ahead in the next four to six months.

The bans stem from Essendon’s disastrous 2011-12 supplements program.

Essendon great Kevin Sheedy coached Wellman when the Bombers won their most recent premiership in 2000.

Sheedy feels the banned players still in the AFL needed to look at the time off as a gap year and use the time wisely.

“The deal in the end is we have to cop that decision, move on, make sure our players don’t leave Essendon,” he said.

“We care for them throughout the season and make sure that as soon as round 22 is over, they’re going to be great players for Essendon in the future.

“That’s the number one thing.”

He said Malthouse would have been a good choice, but praised Wellman as an intelligent and flexible person.

Wellman knows the banned players well, having been an assistant coach at Essendon in 2013 before becoming a mortgage broker.

Sheedy also took a swipe at WADA.

“It’s forced upon them by an organisation obviously that’s out of Europe, who don’t really know a lot about AFL.

“Their job is really to get back and sort out Russia for the Olympics.”

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