x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou resigns

Australian Football League chief executive Andrew Demetriou, the head of the country’s dominant football code, has announced his resignation as the sport continues to grapple with a major anti-doping investigation.

MELBOURNE // Australian Football League chief executive Andrew Demetriou, the head of the country’s dominant football code, has announced his resignation as the sport continues to grapple with a major anti-doping investigation.

One of Australia’s most powerful sports administrators, Demetriou, 52, will serve out an 11th season in charge, having expanded the AFL from 16 to 18 teams and strengthened the standing of Australian Rules as the country’s richest and most well-attended competition.

A former top-flight player and boss of the professional players’ association, Demetriou endured a torrid season last year as the national anti-doping agency launched a probe into the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs at the Melbourne-based Essendon Football Club.

Demetriou oversaw Essendon’s expulsion from last year’s AFL play-offs after the club was charged with systematically administering banned supplements to players, a scandal that continues to overshadow the game. Local media at the weekend named 14 current and former Essendon players engulfed in the probe and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority may yet hand down punishments.

Demetriou denied the scandal had accelerated his decision.

“No, none whatsoever,” Demetriou said Monday. “This was a long time in the making and I think it’s part of good governance.”

Demetriou’s crowning moment was securing an Australian record A$1.253 billion (Dh4.1bn) broadcasting rights deal for 2012-16, a financial coup that has allowed the league to bankroll its expansion plans in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, where rival code rugby league remains supreme.

Demetriou has been linked with a senior role at Tennis Australia.

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