Bomber breaks silence on Dons' drug woes

'Embarrassed' ... Essendon assistant coach Mark Thompson.
'Embarrassed' ... Essendon assistant coach Mark Thompson.

Red-faced Essendon assistant coach Mark Thompson has broken his silence about the doping scandal engulfing his club, admitting the controversy was making life difficult for players and staff.

Speaking for the first time about the AFL and Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority investigation, Thompson said Essendon had "copped a hammering" and needed to "win our members back".

"I don't think the sport has been painted in a great picture, but certainly our club has copped a hammering," Thompson said.

"It is the most serious, most difficult, the hardest to handle, for sure," he said.

Mentor to coach James Hird, Thompson told Fox Footy's AFL 360 that both had found the scandal tough to deal with.

"We have all found it difficult, mate. It has been very hard to survive and to live. Everywhere you go you feel embarrassed. You think that people are thinking you have done these things that everybody has been saying we are doing.

"To be honest, we just have to sit back and wait. We can't defend ourselves, because we are just not allowed to – we understand that we are part of this process. We want to find the truth out. Once the truth comes out we will deal with the consequences."

He said Essendon players were training well but the issue played on their minds.

"It does come up in your mind when you are not out on the grass," he said.

Thompson admitted he was "part of the process" that saw the suspension of high performance manager Dean Robinson at the club.

"I was there. I take responsibility for that for sure," he said.

Thompson said he was shocked about the revelations from the Australian Crime Commission's report into drugs in sport, which found the use of banned substances was rife in elite sport, including several football codes.

But he said sport pushed boundaries.

"I didn't know that the day was coming at all. When you live in an environment where you explore into new territories – which that was for us, it was something we hadn't done before – and obviously there is some risk involved," he said.

Some media reports have suggested Geelong's two premiership cups were in doubt. (Thompson coached Geelong for 11 years.)

"When all the truth comes out, if there is anything that happened at Geelong, well then it will come out too. At least we know with ASADA that it is going to be very, very thorough and they will get to the bottom of it," he said.

This story Bomber breaks silence on Dons' drug woes first appeared on The Age.