Port Adelaide president David Koch has revealed Essendon were strongly urged by all other AFL clubs to accept an earlier punishment for their anti-doping scandal.
The saga, which has dragged on for more than three years, was headlined on Tuesday by a shock Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision.
CAS banned the 34 past and present players involved in Essendon’s supplements saga for two years, with the punishments backdated and ending in November 2016.
It means Essendon will be without 12 players for the upcoming season, while Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne have also been affected.
Koch said under different circumstances, the outcome could have been very different.
“I don’t think I’d be speaking out of school to say that 17 other clubs wanted Essendon to do a deal (with the authorities) and get on with it,” he said on Channel 7 on Wednesday morning.
“Put it behind them … accept their guilt for the good of the game and the good of all of our reputations.
“You had a club and a group of players who took a different view and there was nothing the other clubs or the AFL could do about it.”
Allegations of doping were referred to a joint investigation, between the club and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) in February 2013. The allegations claimed players were administered prohibited peptide Thymosin beta-4 during the 2012 season.
The ‘Essendon 34’ were eventually found not guilty of using a banned supplement in March 2015 by an AFL anti-doping tribunal.
But an appeal launched by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) led to the CAS’ involvement, which ultimately found the Essendon players guilty.
Mr Koch said the saga indicated the need for change in the AFL, to allow the industry more power ‘for the good of the game and code’.
“I think that’s what we need to look at as an industry – if you have, for want of a better description, a rogue club that goes against what the majority of the other clubs think is for the good of the game and the code, that there should be a mechanism that they come into line with the rest of the industry,” he said.