Essendon captain Jobe Watson will have his 2012 Brownlow medal win reviewed in February after the guilty finding against the ‘Essendon 34’ by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Watson was one of 17 current AFL players hit with playing bans for the 2016 season by the CAS for violating anti-doping rules.
The CAS upheld WADA’s appeal against the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s view that it could not be comfortably satisfied Essendon players had taken thymosin beta-4 during 2012.
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In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced Watson would have an opportunity to defend his 2012 medal to the AFL commission in the review.
“The awarding of this medal needs to be reviewed in light of today’s decision,” he said.
“The full commission must hear this issue and there will be a February meeting to provide the appropriate level of time for parties to be prepared.
“Jobe Watson will be invited to address the Commission as potentially will other relevant parties.”
Watson polled 30 votes in the 2012 count, four clear of both Richmond star Trent Cotchin and Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell, who finished tied for second with 26.
But Tuesday morning’s verdict dealt Watson and 33 other past and present Essendon players an unprecedented two-year, backdated ban for breaching the AFL’s anti-doping regulations.
Under WADA regulations, athletes who are found to have breached the anti-doping code are required to forfeit any “medals, points and prize” won during the time of the offence.
Watson also won the Crichton Medal for Essendon’s best-and-fairest and earned All-Australian selection in 2012.
When news of the Essendon supplements scandal broke, Watson’s father Tim – himself an Essendon champion – said his son would be “completely and utterly destroyed” if he was stripped of the medal.
AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh informed Watson of the CAS decision early on Tuesday morning.
He said the club captain was shattered to be ruled out for the upcoming season.
“This is just such a huge blow to them,” he said.
“I don’t think Jobe or any of the others have done anything wrong.
“I hope the AFL – with the decision that’s under their control – make a decision that allows Jobe to keep the Brownlow medal.”