Archive for May, 2019

AFL charges might drag into finals

14/05/2019

Essendon have requested a delay to their AFL Commission hearing, increasing the likelihood that the club’s charges will not be settled before the finals.

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Time is running out for the AFL Commission to decide whether the Bombers, who will finish in the top eight, should be stripped of their premiership points before the finals start on September 6.

In another day of drama surrounding the club’s supplements scandal, an anti-doping consultant also claimed he was told AOD-9604 was not banned last year when the drug was administered to Essendon players.

The status of the anti-obesity drug through last year’s supplements program at the club has been one of the key issues of the ongoing Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation into Essendon.

Acting on an interim ASADA report, the AFL laid charges a week ago against Essendon, their senior coach James Hird, veteran club doctor Bruce Reid, assistant coach Mark Thompson and Bombers football manager Danny Corcoran.

Those AFL charges are not specifically anti-doping, but relate to allegations of conduct unbecoming and bringing the game into disrepute.

The AFL Commission is supposed to hear all the charges next Monday, with the league keen for a resolution before the finals.

But it emerged on Monday night that the four individuals would request delays to their hearings.

Essendon subsequently announced late on Tuesday afternoon that they would do the same.

The commission has the power to strip Essendon of premiership points if it finds the club guilty of the charges.

But there is only 10 days between next Monday and the start of the finals.

“If the AFL gives us the time we need to prepare for this, there is little chance it will be finished before the finals,” Essendon chairman Paul Little said.

The Bombers claim they requested the delay after seeking information from the AFL about the hearing.

“As the AFL has not provided that information, the club is not in a position to proceed next week and that is why the matter needs to be adjourned,” the Bombers added.

The AFL have been tight-lipped as intense negotiations continue with Essendon.

Earlier on Tuesday, before Essendon announced they would request a delay, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the club were within their rights to do so.

In a separate development on Tuesday night, anti-doping specialist Dr Andrew Garnham claimed he received information in February that AOD-9604 was not banned last year.

Dr Garnham has been a member of the AFL anti-doping tribunal jury and has also been advising Essendon over the supplements crisis.

In April, the World Anti-Doping Agency released a statement saying the drug had been banned since 2011.

But a major plank of Essendon’s defence against any specific anti-doping charges will be that they inquired to ASADA about the status of AOD-9604 and were told it was not on any banned list.

“The advice that I had at that time (last February) was that AOD-9604 was considered under section S2 of the anti-doping code and was regarded as not prohibited,” Dr Garnham told Fox Sport’s AFL360 program.

One of the most explosive revelations of this six-month scandal was the admission from Essendon captain Jobe Watson that he believed he had taken AOD-9604.

Watson also steadfastly defended his innocence.

Dr Garnham was among medical personnel who addressed a meeting of Essendon players’ parents and partners on Tuesday night at Windy Hill.

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Gallacher, Bjoern lead European Masters

14/05/2019

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland, Sept 6 AFP – Stephen Gallacher took a share of the halfway lead at the European Masters on Friday before confirming that his uncle, former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, is making progress after a heart attack.

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Gallacher junior produced seven second-round birdies for a 65 to leave him with a ten under par total of 132 and a share of the lead with Denmark’s Thomas Bjoern, the 2011 champion at Crans-sur-Sierre.

Scotland’s Gallacher could have gone into Saturday’s third round holding the outright lead but for a bogey at the 18th.

The frontrunners are being chased one shot back by a five-strong group including Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, who set the course record of 61 on his way to winning here in 2010.

One shot further back came first-round leader Anirban Lahiri, and Paul Casey, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington’s 65 fired him into contention at seven under.

Gallacher has been struggling recently with a back injury and will take some time off after this week but it did not hamper him too much in the Swiss mountains.

“That was a solid round again today,” he told europeantour.com.

“I hit the ball really well on the front nine and got my just rewards for the putts and I’m still in there for tomorrow (Saturday).”

And, in an interview with British Sky Sports television, he had positive news about his 64-year-old uncle Bernard, who has been in critical condition in hospital in Aberdeen since suffering a heart attack on August 30.

“He was pretty good yesterday (Thursday)…He’s eating and drinking by himself. There’s still a long way to go, but he’s due to come out of intensive care,” he disclosed.

“It’s been a tough time for the family, hopefully he’s past the worst.”

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Exit polls show a Coalition landslide

14/05/2019

The coalition is on track to return to government in a landslide, according to an exit poll.

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The Sky News/Newspoll exit poll just after 4pm (AEST) shows the opposition will win 97 seats, a 25-seat gain, while Labor will lose 21 seats and have only 51 MPs in parliament.

It says the only crossbenchers to keep their seats would be Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie and Queenslander Bob Katter.

Greens MP Adam Bandt is predicted to lose the seat of Melbourne.

The two-party preferred result, based on marginal seats in NSW and Queensland, gave the coalition 53 per cent of the vote to Labor’s 47 per cent.

The poll suggests the coalition won 45 per cent of the primary vote, also calculated from those marginal seats.

Labor collected 36 per cent of the primary, Greens got 8 per cent and others 11 per cent.

The coalition is expected to pick up 14 seats in NSW, seven in Queensland, three in Victoria and one in Western Australia.

Labor’s only gain is expected to be retaking the seat of Melbourne from Mr Bandt.

Newspoll says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith, in Brisbane, is too close to call.

“It’s 50-50,” Newspoll chief Martin O’Shannessey told Sky News, saying there had been a seven percentage point primary vote swing away from Mr Rudd.

The exit poll predicted Labor would lose key western Sydney seats, including Lindsay, Greenway and Reid, along with Dobell and Robertson on the Central Coast.

In Queensland, it’s likely to lose Moreton, Petrie and Capricornia along with former treasurer Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley.

Mr O’Shannessey said Liberal Sophie Mirabella looked set to hold her Victorian seat of Indi, in the face of a fierce challenge from independent Cathy McGowan.

Three in 10 voters in Queensland and NSW told Newspoll they thought Mr Rudd would stay on as Labor leader after the election.

Bill Shorten was favoured by 16 per cent and current deputy Anthony Albanese 10 per cent.

More than half of those voters, 52 per cent, would not support having a double dissolution election next year over the carbon tax.

The top issue that affected people’s votes was economic management, with a third saying it was most important to them.

Cost of living came in next with 17 per cent nominating it as most important, followed by education policy on 11 per cent.

Just one in 10 voters said dealing with asylum seekers was the most pressing issue in deciding their vote.

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Dragons star Cooper calls it quits

14/05/2019

An emotional Matt Cooper announced his retirement from the NRL on Tuesday, drawing the curtain on a glittering 13-year career with St George Illawarra.

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The former NSW and Australian centre made 243 appearances for the Dragons – the third highest in the club’s history behind Ben Hornby (273) and Norm Provan (256).

Flanked by coach Steve Price and chief executive Peter Doust, Cooper fought back tears as he announced the decision in front of key members of the Dragons squad and his wife and two children at St George’s Leagues Club.

“It’s a tough decision, I’ve been playing football since I was four … it’s been a long career,” Cooper said.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to play for any other club but the Dragons, it’s the greatest club in the world.”

Cooper made his debut in the 2000 season – the team’s first as a joint-venture – and formed part of the so-called ‘super six’ alongside Mark Gasnier, Luke Bailey, Trent Barrett, Shaun Timmins and Jason Ryles.

He was also part of the 2010 grand final-winning side under Wayne Bennett – the highlight of his career.

“The club hadn’t won the premiership in 30 years and we’d been close so many times, in 2005, 2006 and 2009,” he said.

“To finally win it was a big relief as a lot of people were calling us chokers and to do it for the club and the fans was something special.”

A torn pectoral muscle against South Sydney last month means Cooper won’t get the chance to leave the game on his own terms.

But having made seven appearances for Australia and 13 for NSW, the 34-year-old said he has no regrets.

“I’ve had a great career, been able to play with some of the game’s best players, worked under some of the best coaches – it’s sad but I feel blessed.”

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Superstar son Chris Lane remembered

14/05/2019

Religious protocols prevented the priest who celebrated the life of Christopher Lane from directly mentioning the dreadful circumstances that led to his death.

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But Mr Lane’s grieving father was bound by no such conventions as he spoke with love and raw emotion of the son randomly shot dead by a teenage gunman in America almost two weeks ago.

“When someone as young as Chris loses their life it’s always a tragedy,” Peter Lane said.

“But when the life is lost for no purpose and with no logic, it makes it much harder to understand and accept.

“What happened to Chris is just not fair, but hanging on to it will not help.”

Peter Lane choked on his tears as he spoke of his “superstar son” at the 22-year-old’s funeral in Melbourne on Wednesday.

He praised a son who excelled as a sportsman, poignantly recalled the “don’t tell dad” moments of mischief and spoke longingly of how Chris had only just moved on “from child to man”.

Chris Lane was about to begin his senior year at East Central University in Oklahoma, where he had a baseball scholarship, when he was shot in the back by a teenager he’d never met and who didn’t know him.

The killing provoked new and inevitably brief and futile discussion on gun laws in the United States and prompted a tribute from President Barack Obama.

In St Therese’s Catholic Church in Essendon it drew out the heartfelt memories of his three older sisters who spoke of the simple joys of Christmas mornings with their baby brother, of his love of getting haircuts when he was a toddler and of a little boy who would sleep with one eye open so as not to miss out on any fun.

His sister Andrea also spoke of Chris’s empathy and his “inherent goodness and fairness”.

“Ever since primary school, Christopher was always the one to go out of his way to make people feel included,” she said.

“He was always helping out the underdog, or anyone who was disenfranchised.”

She told the hundreds of mourners in St Therese’s how her little brother hated to see his sisters fight or cry.

“That sincerity made him such a fine young man,” she said.

The full impact of that point was emphasised after the service as more than a hundred of his old school mates from St Bernard’s College and members of the Essendon Baseball Club formed a guard of honour as the cortege drove away.

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