Best Sports News Story in any Medium
Damian Barrett of National Nine News has won the Quill for Best Sports News Story in any Medium.
In a hotly contested category, marked by a number of excellent entries, the judges felt Damian Barrett's work on the Essendon drugs scandal provided the standout news story of the year. Barrett was the first reporter to get wind of the supplements saga late in 2012 and was researching it through January (securing a breakthrough interview with former player Kyle Reimers) and early February. His hand was forced when Essendon officials met the AFL to 'self-report' on February 5. At 2pm that day, he went to air on Channel Nine to announce the developments, and the background to the story, while introducing us to sports scientist Stephen Dank, who would become one of the key figures in the saga. His interview with Reimers, who revealed the extent of Dank's supplements program, helped give vital perspective to the issue. Damian can be said to have led the way with the biggest sports story of the year.
Highly commended were Caro Meldrum-Hanna, 7:30 ABC and Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, The Age.
Caro Meldrum-Hanna secured the interview every AFL reporter had been chasing - with Essendon's mercurial sports scientist, Stephen Dank. This exclusive went to air on 11 February, a week after the Essendon supplements scandal broke and provided valuable detail and background to the club's controversial program. Dank outlined some of his practices with supplements, how the coaching staff, including James Hird, was fully aware of the program.
Baker and McKenzie were at the forefront of the coverage of Essendon’s supplements scandal through 2013. And this exclusive story, published on 11 April, revealed for the first time which drugs the players were given (including pig’s brain extract and cow colostrum), the fact that WADA intended to ban the anti-obesity drug AOD-9604 and the claim that James Hird had been injected by Dank with Hexarelin, which WADA had banned in 2004. The story had huge ramifications in the AFL, prompting chief Andrew Demetriou to say Hird should consider standing down.