AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou says he’ll quit the role at the end of the season, which is his 11th at the helm.
The 52-year-old made the announcement at a media conference alongside AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick at AFL House this morning.
Demetriou has overseen a period of expansion, but was criticised in the past year for his handling of the Essendon supplements scandal – which prompted an on-going anti-doping investigation.
Demetriou revealed he’d informed Fitzpatrick of his decision about a month ago while they were in the United States attending the NFL’s Super Bowl.
“I’ve always said it was a privilege and an honour to serve the game,” said Demetriou.
“I also believe the time is right.
“The growth of the game has been extraordinary.
“It’s been a wonderful journey full of challenges but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I leave the game with no regrets,” added Demetriou.
Fitzpatrick said the AFL had hired a company to conduct the search for Demetriou’s replacement.
Demetriou’s deputy Gillon McLachlan is expected to be a contender.
Demetriou hoped the year-long anti-doping saga surrounding Essendon would not taint his legacy.
“That will be for others to judge,” said Demetriou.
“Hopefully people won’t take a snapshot of one point in time.
“Everything at the AFL has been done as a collective.
“We’ve achieved so much of what we’ve done as a collective. It will be for others to judge (whether I’ve done a good job).
Demetriou repeated regrets expressed previously the AFL hadn’t moved earlier on concerns mounting about the level of regulation in sports science within AFL.
But he defended his response since the Essendon scandal broke in early 2013.
“We (Demetriou and Fitzpatrick) were both concerned about sport science a couple of years ago,” he said.
“Whether we could’ve acted earlier .. we just weren’t in a position there. There was enough hearsay to have us worried.
“The AFL has done all it can do in this situation. I’m proud of how we acted last year.
“We’ve enhanced the anti-doping code. What happens thereafter is in (anti-doping agency) ASADA’s hands. We are well equipped with any issue going forward.”
Asked if he accepted any responsibility for the Essendon scandal, Demetriou responded strongly.
“I don’t accept any responsibility for people who try to infiltrate the game,” he said.
“Even as good as our integrity department was, we didn’t pick that up.
“That’s not a fault. You don’t pick up every speeding fine. The AFL’s in much better shape today as an industry because of what we learned last year.”
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