Former Essendon player Michael Quinn has revealed his disappointment that the careers of many ex-colleagues have been tarnished by the drugs scandal which has rocked Aussie Rules.
A dozen current Essendon players are among 34 in total that have been suspended until November, effectively a whole season, due to anti-doping violations at the club in 2012.
Longford colossus Quinn, who lined out for DCU against All-Ireland champions Dublin last weekend, wasn’t implicated as he was delisted by the club before the offences took place.
An AFL anti-doping tribunal initially cleared the players of knowingly taking the banned substance Thymosin Beta 4, believed to aid tissue repair, as part of the club’s supplement program.
However, an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was upheld and back dated two-year bans were confirmed earlier this week. It’s been reported that two of the 34 players, recently retired Dustin Fletcher and Jobe Watson, will serve bans eight days longer due to their involvement in the International Rules series against Ireland.
“I would have played with the majority of those players,” said Quinn, at the club for three seasons between 2009 and 2011.
“I wouldn’t have talked to them since but I’d feel for them, a lot of their careers were effectively put on hold if not ended. For lads that were in around 30, it was really tough.
Asked if he felt he dodged a bullet by ending his stint at the club before the illegal supplements were apparently administered, Quinn shrugged: “Probably, I was lucky in one sense and maybe unlucky in another sense, not to have stayed in the AFL longer generally, it’s very hard to know,” added Quinn, who set a record in 2009 for the quickest debut by a GAA convert.
“You don’t really know what exactly happened, it’s very hard to say for sure. Personally, I feel for the lads involved that they were caught up in the middle of this. It’s something that’s dragged on for three years and they’ll be suspended this year so that’s four years.
Quinn suggested a bond of trust was broken when the players were supplied with the substance. The AFL Players’ Association has agreed and claimed the players ‘did nothing wrong’.
“That’s the difficulty with it, that there was trust placed in people that were in a position of knowledge and, without knowing the ins and outs of it, that’s my understanding of it,” said Quinn.
“It is difficult looking in from the outside, to understand who is to blame but the players seem to be taking the brunt of it. There are 34 players who have been suspended. Now, if it was one or two, you might think, ‘fair enough, these fellas acted that way’ but when there’s 34 players it seems that something more went on.”
Quinn feels there’s no cause for alarm in the GAA regarding the use of supplements.
“From what I can see, the guys that are at that level in the GAA, they would question everything, from the training they’re doing to any supplements they might be taking,” said Quinn.
“Even something as simple as a cold or flu, straight away it’s ‘ring the doctor and see if it’s okay to take this or not’. Obviously, you can’t know for 100% that nobody is doing this or that but there’s nothing like that I’m aware of.”
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