FORMER Essendon development coach Rick Ladson is shocked at the drug probe into the Bombers.
Essendon is now under investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the AFL’s integrity unit into supplements given to its players last year that may breach the AFL’s anti-doping code.
After retiring from Hawthorn at the end of the 2011 season, Ladson – now coaching Bendigo Football League club Golden Square – spent last year working at Essendon as its development coach and playing with the club’s VFL affiliate, the Bendigo Gold.
“From my point of view, and having worked at Essendon last year, I wasn’t aware of anything going on that may not have been above board,” Ladson told the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what is being said that they may have taken.
“I was there to look after the young fellas and I didn’t pry into anything else that was going on.
“I did know that Steve Dank (former Essendon performance scientist) worked there.
“But what the boys did or didn’t do, I didn’t intrude on that, so I wasn’t aware of anything that was going on.”
Ladson, one of the senior players at the Bendigo Gold last year, said he was not aware of any Gold players being asked by Essendon’s sports science department to take any supplements.
“Nothing came past us, so for this to have happened the way it has, it has shocked me,” Ladson said.
Justin Maddern, who was one of the Gold’s key forwards last year, also said the Essendon probe came as a surprise.
“I didn’t see anything going on at all last year,” Maddern said.
Wayne Schultz was one of the Gold’s Melbourne-based players last season and occassionally trained with Essendon’s senior squad.
“The VFL guys trained with the senior group at certain stages, but we had no idea what was going on,” Schultz said. “It’s been a bit of a spin-out and a shock to hear it all.
“Our weight training program was different to the senior group – we’d do our sessions after work and the big boys would have their sessions out of the road (by then).”
Meanwhile, Gold general manager Graham Pratt doesn’t expect any contact from Essendon as part of the investigation.
“My feeling is that we were so divorced from it that they’re not even going to bother to talk to us about it,” Pratt said.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of our players from last year and none of them have even spoken to Steve Dank before.”
With the matter now handed over to ASADA and the AFL, Essendon was unable to confirm if any Bendigo Gold players from 2012 would be spoken to as part of the investigation.
ASADA was unable to comment on the investigation yesterday.