AFL boss strongly denies 'betraying' Essendon

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan remains adamant he did not lie to Essendon at the height of the supplements crisis.

Audio of an Essendon meeting on August 8, 2013 lays bare the fury, confusion and sense of betrayal that underscored their negotiations with the AFL.

The recording, released by News Corp Australia, purportedly involves club chairman Paul Little, coach James Hird, assistant coach Mark Thompson and football boss Danny Corcoran - none of whom are now at the Bombers.

SICK IN THE GUTS: Thompson lashes out over Hird saga

Later that month, the AFL hit Essendon with a raft of charges over the club's disastrous 2012 supplements regime.

The recording was made public on Thursday, the night of Essendon's 2017 season launch, with the club welcoming back 10 players who have served doping bans that stemmed from the supplements debacle.

Hird and Little. Image: Getty
Hird and Little. Image: Getty

Before the season starts, the AFL also plans to make public a review of how it handled the supplements controversy.

In the recording, Little accuses McLachlan, then deputy chief, of betraying his word over the affected players.

"Every single issue that I agreed on with Gil McLachlan, and I met with him the other night, has pretty much been reversed," Little said.

"We spoke about getting the players cleared 'unconditionally' - was the word I used. I rang him last night and I said, 'you know, you've really upset me here because you've gone back on your word, Gil'.

"He then said to me, 'there is a 99 per cent chance that the players won't be charged.' And I said, 'well, I'd like to believe you but are you happy for me to use that language in front of the players?' And he said, 'oh no, you can't do that'.

"And I said, 'well f**k, you're telling me one thing and over here I can't tell anything to the players'."

Thompson (far left) and Corcoran (third from left). Image: Getty
Thompson (far left) and Corcoran (third from left). Image: Getty

Days later, following the release of an interim ASADA report, the AFL charged Hird, Thompson, club doctor Bruce Reid, Corcoran and the club itself with bringing the game into disrepute.

The AFL kicked Essendon out of the 2013 finals, fined them $2 million and stripped them of draft picks.

Hird was suspended for 12 months, while Corcoran and Thompson were also punished.

The AFL's penalties were separate to the lengthy anti-doping process.

"The day I lie to someone is the day I can't do my job," McLachlan told SEN on Friday morning.

McLachlan. Image: Getty
McLachlan. Image: Getty

"I can tell the offer with Paul to start with is basically, exactly the same with where we ended up."

McLachlan added the AFL's view at the time of the Essendon meeting was that the players would not be charged.

Instead, after a drawn-out process, 34 current and past players were banned in January last year for doping offences.

McLachlan dismissed the release of the recording, which has prompted renewed calls for a government inquiry into the saga.

He said a recording of then-AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou would have sounded much the same - only with more swearing.

Reid and Thompson. Image: Getty
Reid and Thompson. Image: Getty

"Today (is) reflective of all the angst - it was an incredibly tumultuous period," McLachlan said.

"It's just bizarre that someone would record their chairman privately.

"Have you heard Andrew's tapes? ... oh, my God.

"The trouble is, there's actually no words that aren't swear words."

with AAP