THE AFL Commission met on Tuesday November 15 and ruled on the 2012 Brownlow Medal.
The Commission noted that Jobe Watson announced last Friday, November 11, that he would hand back the Brownlow Medal, to honour the history of the award.
The Commission believes that Jobe's decision was a noble one. In respecting the values of the competition, and putting the interests of the game before his own, Jobe has shown his commitment to fair play – the qualities of a champion.
The Commission ruled that Jobe Watson was not eligible for the 2012 Brownlow Medal and that, in accordance with AFL Regulations, the 2012 Brownlow winners are Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell.
The AFL forwarded its decision to all three players today.
Mr Fitzpatrick said that the status of the Brownlow Medal was uppermost in the view of the Commission in making the decision.
"The Brownlow Medal is the most prestigious individual award in our game, and celebrates the competition's best and fairest player," he said.
"In stepping forward and handing back the medal, Jobe Watson demonstrated a willingness to consider the game beyond his own personal situation. At all times, Jobe has carried himself with dignity and remained true to the values that he has based his life around.
"The impact of this decision on him and his family is one of great sadness for the game.
"Essendon has apologised to Jobe and his family for the position in which they have placed their club champion.
"I wish to repeat the words I said in January earlier this year when the 34 past and present Essendon players were found guilty by the Court of Arbitration of Sport. The program at the Essendon Football Club in 2012 was a stain on our game – and it has had a terrible impact on the players and the Essendon Football Club," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"We can all agree that the players should never have been subject to this program, and they have suffered a big penalty for the trust they showed in people who have let them down.
"What occurred at Essendon in 2012 has struck at the very heart of our game – the integrity of the competition, and the health and safety of the players.
Mr Fitzpatrick said Tuesday was also a day to recognise and celebrate two champions of the game.
"As the highest-placed eligible vote-getters, Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin were formally declared the joint winners of the 2012 Brownlow Medal," he said.
"Sam and Trent are deserving Brownlow Medallists for the quality of their play in 2012, and the Commission wishes to pass on the congratulations of the entire football community for their performances."
Mr Fitzpatrick said the Commission had resolved that the players will be presented with their medals in Melbourne next month by the AFL Commission as part of its December meeting, with their families and other guests present.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the AFL Commission wished to clearly re-state for the record that it accepted the ruling of CAS and the verdict of the Swiss Court, and was committed to clean sport.
"On behalf of the AFL Commission I want to send a clear and unequivocal message that nothing comes ahead of the need to safeguard the fairness of our competition," he said.
"The very essence of sport demands it. The pursuit of on-field success can never be allowed to obscure a commitment to the principles of player welfare and competition integrity."