Essendon's week has gone from bad to worse, with retired AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick reopening old wounds from the club's supplements saga.
In an interview to be aired on Fox Footy's Open Mike on Tuesday, Fitzpatrick declared substances injected into players in 2012 were "almost certainly performance enhancing".
Former AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick's interview is ill-timed for a club already in crisis.
The Bombers' disastrous start to the season reached a new low on Sunday when previously winless Carlton prevailed by 13 points at the MCG.
On Monday, game performance coach Mark Neeld quit the club amidst reports of discord in the coaches box.
The AFL kicked Essendon out of the 2013 finals, fined them $2 million and stripped them of draft picks after an investigation into the club's ill-fated injections regime.
In January of 2016, 34 current and past players were banned for doping breaches associated with the supplements program.
"My point of view is that it was almost certainly performance enhancing," Fitzpatrick said of the injected substances.
"But even if it wasn't, the penalty in the end that the AFL put on Essendon was to due with duty of care and the general behaviour towards the players.
"You couldn't be totally certain (the substances were performance enhancing).
"I think when you provide thousands of injections, when you go through all of the injections that were put through, with substances which they apparently weren't too sure what they were.
"They either didn't know what was in it or if they did know, they weren't going to say."
Fitzpatrick served as chairman of the AFL Commission from 2007 until his retirement last year.
Neeld left the club just eight weeks into the season after John Worsfold's coaching and game plan came in for stinging criticism with his side languishing in 15th place on the ladder with a 2-6 record.
"My understanding is that the (coaches) box was slightly fractured," Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy said on Fox Footy's On The Couch.
A club statement released on Monday asserted the move was a mutual one, but added that Neeld's former position would not be filled.
The move came just hours after Essendon great Kevin Sheedy denied former pupil Matthew Lloyd's assertion that the Bombers are no longer a great club.
Adding to the club's woes, star defender Michael Hurley is in doubt for the round nine clash with Geelong with a hamstring strain.
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