Essendon chairman Paul Little has blasted John Fahey for saying there will soon be anti-doping charges over the AFL club’s supplements scandal.
Little also gave another strong assurance to members at Monday night’s club annual general meeting that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) will not issue infraction notices against the Bombers.
Fahey, the outgoing World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president, dropped a bombshell in a Friday media interview when he said that he expects it is only a matter of time before ASADA make charges over the scandal.
But Fahey was also later quoted by another media outlet that he had no new detail.
Little said Fahey’s initial comment was destructive.
“It’s so irresponsible of him to keep making these wild accusations that he freely admits himself are lacking in substance,” Little said.
“He doesn’t know whether he’s right or he’s wrong, but he’s going to keep making these … wild statements that do not have any substance behind them.”
While the AFL hit Essendon with severe penalties in August, the ASADA investigation remains ongoing.
Little is extremely confident there will be no anti-doping charges.
“I can’t give you a watertight guarantee,” he said.
“But at this point in time, I think we’re in the best place we’ve been in for the last 24 months.
“I want to leave you tonight with a level of confidence I have … that while you never say never, ASADA are not interested in Essendon at the moment.”
After a year dominated by the supplements crisis, the mood among members at the packed AGM was one of defiance, anger and strong support for the club and James Hird.
The banned coach received a round of applause when he arrived for the meeting and sat in the audience.
Little confirmed that the club is paying Hird his annual base salary of $750,000 before the end of this year.
This followed intense negotiations last week with the AFL over whether the club pays him during the ban.
The league was determined that Hird receive no club payment next year.
Little said the AFL had not asked Essendon to stop paying football manager Danny Corcoran during his four-month suspension.
One member called on a vote of no-confidence against AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, but Little said the club must re-build relationships with the league.
“I empathise and sympathise with what you’re asking us to do,” Little said.
“I’m not sure that given we’re striving so hard to put the events of 2012-13 behind us that it would be in our best interests to convey a message of no confidence (in Demetriou).”
There was one dissenting voice at the AGM, with member Bill Jennings proposing a member’s forum.
“How do you reckon that news was received last week by Essendon members who work at Holden?” he said of the club’s payment to Hird.
Stand-in senior coach Mark Thompson said in his address it was time for the club to move on from the scandal and its aftermath.
The legal, consulting and sanction costs from the AFL and ASADA investigations for Essendon so far have been $4 million.