APN SPORT BUREAUAFL: Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has echoed the thoughts of countless football fans across the country who suspect the supplements saga at Essendon will not be resolved before this year's finals.
The AFL will hold a hearing on August 26 in relation to charges of bringing the game into disrepute that have been laid against the the Essendon Football Club, coach James Hird, assistant coach Mark Thompson, club doctor Bruce Reid and football manager Danny Corcoran.
Hird yesterday confirmed he and club would "vigorously defend" the charges, saying "to be charged for bringing the game into disrepute, that I love and cherish and respect so much, is terribly disappointing".
"We're going to make sure we're found not guilty," he said.
The determined stance taken by Essendon and the individuals charged, prompted Malthouse to say the matter may not be resolved for months.
"I think it's going to be a shambles at the end of the year," he said on radio station 3AW. "Anything can be pressed into the court system and it will be delayed and delayed and delayed.
"We know that the longer you delay things, the more resolve people have to hang in there. I can't see this being concluded until well after the season and even in 2014, there will be times the AFL will need to act to protect the integrity of the season."
The Carlton mentor also said it was critical the AFL took strong action to discourage young players from pushing the boundaries.
"If you can give them something or inject them with something that's going to make them better, you don't think they're going to get out there and do it?" he said.
"It's up to the AFL to make sure without any fear of hesitation that this is illegal, we will not put up with it and if we find (any illegal substances) you are then not eligible for the draft."
While Essendon welcomed the news no players at the club had been issued with infraction notices, former ASADA boss Richard Ings said the fact the authority had only released an interim report left the door open for charges to be laid against the players if more information became available.
Earlier this month ASADA was given extra powers enabling it to interview additional witnesses.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.