A TIGHT-LIPPED Essendon has asked the AFL and Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to investigate concerns about supplements used by Bombers players last season.
Essendon chairman David Evans told a press conference at AFL House on Tuesday afternoon that the Bombers had received information in the past two days raising concerns about the supplements.
Evans said the Bombers had contacted the AFL and ASADA on Tuesday to launch an immediate joint investigation.
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"Of course this is a very distressing time for our club, our executive, our players and our board. We believe as a club that we have done everything right to be compliant with the rules and regulations of the AFL and ASADA," Evans said.
"But the integrity of the club is critical to the people sitting at this table and, of course, for the broader Essendon family. And that is why we have moved quickly today to call the AFL and ASADA to seek a clean bill of health.
"The info we gathered over the last 24 or 48 hours is slightly concerning, and we want to dig a bit deeper but we want the AFL to help us."
Evans was accompanied at the press conference by Essendon CEO Ian Robson and coach James Hird.
"I'm very disappointed, shocked is probably the best word," Hird said.
"As a coach I take full responsibility for what happens in our footy department.
"If there have been goings on within our football department that are not right we want to know.
"But it's my belief though that we have done everything right and that … the supplements that our players were given … were all approved and within the regulations that we all play the games by."
Evans refused to directly answer questions on the nature of the information Essendon had received about the supplements, where that information had come from, and whether it raised concerns about performance-enhancing drugs.
The Essendon chairman also refused to name the staff members responsible for introducing the supplement program, and would not reveal the number of players who took the supplements and whether players had signed waiver forms before taking the supplements.
Acting AFL football operations manager Gillon McLachlan said the Bombers had acted appropriately in seeking an investigation.
"David Evans has briefed the AFL about the matter and we support his actions," McLachlan said.
"The AFL's integrity unit already works closely with ASADA and will assist with the investigation.”
AFL Players' Association CEO Matt Finnis said: "If information has come to hand which raises concerns over the integrity of their [Essendon] fitness program, then we consider it entirely appropriate for the Essendon Football Club to refer such concerns to both the AFL and ASADA.
"Clubs providing players with supplements and directions as to their players’ training requirements have a significant responsibility and in our view, any concerns regarding the nature of such directions ought to be treated with the utmost seriousness."
Nick Bowen is a reporter with AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nick