Essendon chairman Paul Little has released the following statement:

Essendon Football Club confirms it and four club employees – James Hird, Mark Thompson, Danny Corcoran and Dr Bruce Reid – have received notice from the AFL that they have been charged under AFL Rule 1.6.

Now that charges have been laid, the club and individuals involved are in a far better position to focus on understanding the specific nature of the allegations and the evidence upon which the AFL has relied to lay the charges.

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Essendon takes these matters very seriously. They are based on assertions contained in an interim report from ASADA and will be vigorously defended. 

Bombers face charges

These are very complex matters and whilst the Essendon Football Club is determined to resolve them expeditiously, that cannot be at the expense of thoroughness and due process that affords all parties natural justice to ensure a fair outcome.

Essendon welcomes the news that no infraction notices have been issued against any of its players and the AFL’s statement that, on current evidence, no notices will be issued.

Throughout this process, our prime consideration has been the welfare of our players.  We have maintained that no player has taken a performance-enhancing substance and that there was no breach of the AFL’s anti-doping code. We stand by this and thank our players and their families for the way they have conducted themselves during what have been emotionally taxing times.

Since the club first raised its concerns with the AFL and proactively invited ASADA to investigate these matters, we have co-operated fully with all enquiries.

It is also important to be very clear that there is no doubt the club and individuals have made mistakes and that our governance and people management had significant gaps.

Over recent months, we have also implemented fundamental reforms of our internal governance practices and procedures, including reform of our HR and employee recruitment policies, medical protocols and lines of responsibility and accountability. The club has been assisted in this task by appropriate independent experts.

Given the club’s assessment of the charges it is appropriate that the four individuals continue to perform their roles within our reformed governance structure. To do otherwise before these matters are finalised would be to effectively impose a penalty in advance of a fair hearing and represent a denial of natural justice.

The club notes that the AFL does not intend to make further comment at this time and neither will the Essendon Football Club or the charged individuals.