Andrew Demetriou denies supplements saga behind his decision to quit after 2014

Andrew Demetriou will step away as chief executive of the AFL at the end of the year confident his legacy will be unaffected by the league's handling of the Essendon supplements scandal.

An emotional Demetriou praised everyone he had worked with, his family and the fans as he announced he had tendered his resignation last month but would stay on until the end of the year.

The AFL Commission has engaged an executive recruitment firm to find Demetriou's successor with AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan the obvious name in what will be a large field of candidates for the job.

Admitting that he was disappointed the AFL had not done more to stop the rise in dominance of sports science several years ago when the league first had concerns, Demetriou denied the AFL should shoulder some of the blame for what occurred at Essendon.

''I will tell you what I didn't do, I didn't inject anyone,'' Demetriou said.

He added: ''I do not accept any responsibility for people who seek to infiltrate the game to inject young men with God knows what substances to introduce practices that are abhorrent to the game and to families.

''Our job is to try and put as many preventative measures in place as we could and even as good as our integrity department was we didn't pick that up. And that is not a fault, you don't catch every speeding fine, you don't catch every person who breaks the law.

"The AFL's in much better shape today as an industry because of what we learned last year."

Demetriou said he was confident he had left the game better than he found it, but that now was the appropriate time for someone else to take over.

"Every organisation needs renewal, needs a new set of eyes. I believe the time is right," he said.

Demetriou said he had informed AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick while on a trip to the Super Bowl and that he formally advised the rest of the commission on February 17.

It was agreed this was the right time to make the resignation public in order to openly seek a successor.

The announcement comes on the day of Essendon's season launch and two days before the AFL's season launch.

Demetriou's family – his wife Symone, whom he met at the AFL after the death of his first wife, his four children, father and mother-in-law were all present at the press conference and he emotionally gave thanks to them all.

He said the Essendon saga had had no influence on the timing of the announcement.

"I leave the game with no regrets," he said.

Fitzpatrick said he and Demetriou had held discussions for more than 18 months about a succession plan and, entering his 11th year in the job, the time was right for Demetriou to move on. He lavished praise on Demetriou's time in the job overseeing significant increases in all areas of the job.

Fitzpatrick said he had no plans to move on as chairman and that he was there "indefinitely".

Demetriou said a knowledge of the football industry was an advantage but not a pre-requisite for his successor.

The story Andrew Demetriou denies supplements saga behind his decision to quit after 2014 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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