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No deal, say Essendon players

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AFL Players’ Association chief Paul Marsh has denied Essendon’s 34 past and present players facing show-cause notices are seeking to do deals with ASADA.

Marsh said on Monday the players insist they’ve done nothing wrong.

“The AFL Players’ Association can confirm that the players’ legal team has now spoken to the majority of the 34 players who have been issued with show-cause notices, and will seek to speak to the remainder of the players in coming days,” Marsh said in a statement.

“Contrary to media reports and speculation, the players remain steadfast in their position that they are not looking to resolve this matter through a ‘deal’ with ASADA.

“Players continue to take the view that they have done nothing wrong. And despite numerous requests, players have not been provided with any evidence to suggest otherwise.

“This matter has already severely disrupted two AFL seasons and taken an enormous toll on the players involved.”

Essendon caretaker coach Mark Thompson suggested it was time his players became a “bit selfish”.

“They’ve been hanging around long enough … being polite, fair and reasonable,” Thompson told Fox Footy.

“It’s time for them to get a bit selfish and get on with it, do what they want to do.

“I’m happy to support whatever they want.”

Marsh says the players want the matter to proceed as soon as possible.

“For this to happen ASADA needs to provide the evidence it has and we call on them to do so urgently,” Marsh said.

“There has been speculation that Essendon Football Club or James Hird will seek to appeal the decision made by Justice Middleton. That is a matter for them.”

Essendon and coach Hird went to the Federal Court to test the legality of last year’s joint AFL-ASADA investigation into the club’s 2012 supplements program.

However last week, Justice John Middleton handed down a bombshell verdict in which he comprehensively ruled against Hird and the club.

ASADA is free now to proceed with show cause notices against 34 current and former Essendon players, with the potential for anti-doping bans.

The anti-doping body is yet to confirm how long the players will have to respond to the show-cause notices, but it is understood to be 10 or 14 days.

Fairfax Media reported on Monday some Essendon players were “contemplating a deal with ASADA in a bid to accelerate their return to the AFL”.

Thompson, meanwhile, says he’s yet to consider the prospect of coaching AFL club Essendon in 2015.

Thompson served as caretaker coach this season, filling in for Hird.

“It’s a hypothetical. Very much so,” Thompson said on Fox Footy when asked if he would be willing to coach the Bombers in 2015, should Hird be removed or step down.

“I did it this year … it’s something I’d have to weigh up.

“It was a one-year job. I’ve done the year and very happily handed it back to James.”

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