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Jobe Watson to hand back 2012 Brownlow Medal

Watson makes brave Brownlow call Nathan Schmook and Travis King dissect Jobe Watson's decision to hand back the 2012 Brownlow Medal
If there is a question in people's minds as to whether the award is tainted, the fairest and best thing to do is to give it back and honour the history that has gone before me
Jobe Watson

JOBE Watson has decided to hand back his 2012 Brownlow Medal. 

Due to face the AFL Commission on Tuesday to present a submission on why he should keep the medal, the Essendon skipper has instead made the decision with "mixed emotions" to return it.

The 2012 medal could now retrospectively be given to joint runners-up Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell.

Watson won the game's highest individual honour in the season the Bombers undertook their controversial supplements program, which saw 34 past and present players suspended for this season by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in January.

The players' appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland was dismissed last month, leaving Watson with a choice to face the AFL Commission or to hand the medal back.

"Last month the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland dismissed the appeal mounted by lawyers representing my teammates and I," Watson said in a statement released by the AFL Players' Association.

"This may represent finality of this matter from a legal perspective, however the reality is that for the players and our families it is something that we will continue to carry with us.

Jobe Watson's full statement

"The negative impact it has had should not define who we are, however I believe it has undoubtedly changed us in various ways.

"It is with mixed emotions that I have decided to hand back my 2012 Brownlow Medal.

"It is now up to the AFL Commission at their meeting on Tuesday to make a decision as to what they want to do with it."

Watson said the decision was based on his values as a person, adding it has been "incredibly distressing" to have people question his integrity.

"Football has always been a part of my life, from being a young boy watching my dad play, to my own ambitions of pursuing a dream to play at an elite level," he said.

"I have benefited from being brought up in a community where people strive to be the best they can be and bring out the best in others.

"It has been incredibly distressing for me to have people question my integrity and infer an intention to act against the spirit of the game, a spirit that is intrinsically a part of who I am. 

"The basic principle behind this prestigious award is to honour the fairest and best.

"If there is a question in people's minds as to whether the award is tainted, the fairest and best thing to do is to give it back and honour the history that has gone before me.

"I want to make it clear that today's decision does not in anyway reflect a change in my personal opinion regarding the merits of the CAS finding, but rather reflects my desire to put to a close further speculation about what should be done with the 2012 Brownlow Medal. 

"One of the most frustrating elements of this entire process has been my belief that many of the decisions in this matter have been based on perception rather than evidence.

"I would like to share my thoughts with the AFL Commission, however that needs to be at a time and in a forum that is right for me."

'It's our responsibility': Dons take blame for Jobe's Brownlow loss

Watson was one of 10 banned Bombers who have returned to the club for pre-season training on Monday after deciding to continue their careers at Tullamarine next year.

The 31-year-old said he would make no further comment on the Brownlow. 

Mitchell, now with West Coast after his trade from Hawthorn, has refused to comment on the controversy.

He was in the middle of a media conference when news broke of Watson's move, but the former Hawks champion said he didn't want to comment on the issue.

In March, Cotchin said he would accept the medal if Watson was stripped of it.

Top 10 vote-winners in the 2012 Brownlow Medal

1. Jobe Watson - 30 votes
2. Trent Cotchin - 26
Sam Mitchell - 26
4. Dane Swan - 25
Scott Thompson - 25
6. Gary Ablett - 24
7. Patrick Dangerfield - 23
8. Dayne Beams - 19
Lenny Hayes - 19
Josh Kennedy - 19