2012 Brownlow Medal

The 2012 Brownlow Medal was the 85th year the award was presented to the player adjudged the fairest and best player during the Australian Football League (AFL) home and away season.[1] The award was won jointly by Sam Mitchell of the Hawthorn Football Club and Trent Cotchin of the Richmond Football Club, each of whom polled 26 votes during the 2012 AFL season.

2012 Brownlow Medal
Date24 September
LocationCrown Palladium
Hosted byBruce McAvaney
WinnersTrent Cotchin (Richmond)
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Television/radio coverage
NetworkSeven Network
Fox Footy

Jobe Watson of the Essendon Football Club originally received the medal by polling thirty votes;[2] however, Watson and thirty-three of his Essendon team-mates were later found guilty and suspended for using a banned substance during the 2012 season under the club's sports science program, a scandal known as the Essendon supplements saga. On 15 November 2016, four years after initially receiving the medal, the AFL Commission ruled Watson retrospectively ineligible for the award due to the suspension he received, and awarded the medal to jointly to Cotchin and Mitchell, the players with the next most votes.[3][4]

Leading votegetters

Jobe Watson (Essendon)*30
=1stTrent Cotchin (Richmond)26
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
=3rdScott Thompson (Adelaide)25
Dane Swan (Collingwood)
5thGary Ablett (Gold Coast)24
6thPatrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)23
=7thDayne Beams (Collingwood)19
Lenny Hayes (St Kilda)
Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
=10thKieren Jack (Sydney)15
Scott Selwood (West Coast)
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle)**15

* Watson was deemed ineligible to win the Brownlow due to his involvement in the Essendon supplements saga.
** Pavlich was ineligible for the medal after being suspended during the home-and-away season.

Voting procedure

The three field umpires (those umpires who control the flow of the game, as opposed to goal or boundary umpires) confer after each match and award three votes, two votes and one vote to the players they regard as the best, second best and third best in the match, respectively. The votes are kept secret until the awards night, and are read and tallied on the evening.

As the medal is awarded to the fairest and best player in the league, those who have been suspended during the season by the AFL Tribunal (or, who avoided suspension only because of a discount for a good record or an early guilty plea) are ineligible to win the award; however, they may still continue to poll votes. Notable players who were ineligible entering the count this season included, among others: former Brownlow Medallists Jimmy Bartel, Simon Black, Chris Judd and Adam Goodes, as well as Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich.[5]

Effect of Essendon supplements saga

In February 2013, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) began an investigation into the legality of Essendon's supplements program during the 2012 AFL season and the preceding preseason. Thirty-four Essendon players – including Watson – were suspected of taking the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4. This quickly led to debate over whether or not a guilty verdict would see Watson stripped of the medal. The investigation and court action stretched over the following four years. Initially, the AFL Tribunal delivered a not guilty verdict in March 2015, but on appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the players were found guilty in January 2016, resulting in the suspensions of all thirty-four players. An appeal lodged against that decision in the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland was dismissed in October 2016.[6]

Following the guilty verdict handed down by the CAS in January, it was announced the AFL Commission would meet in February to determine whether Watson would retain his Brownlow Medal;[7] however, this decision was delayed until the outcome of the Federal Supreme Court appeal.[8] The final decision regarding Jobe Watson's Brownlow medal win was decided by the AFL Commission in late November 2016, with Watson retrospectively ruled ineligible for the award, and the medal then awarded to the next highest vote-getters, Cotchin and Mitchell, under the normal rules regarding ineligible players;[9] Watson had pre-empted the decision by announcing on 11 November 2016 that he would hand back the medal.[10] The medals were presented to Cotchin and Mitchell in a small ceremony in Melbourne on 13 December 2016.[11] Watson's physical medal was handed back to the AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan in early 2017, with no plans in place to re-present or display it as of February 2017.[12]


  1. Lovett, Michael (ed.). AFL Record Season Guide 2016. Docklands, Victoria: Slattery Media Group. p. 593.
  2. Blake, Martin (24 September 2012). "Reward at last for Dons skipper". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  3. Nicholson, Larissa (11 November 2016). "Essendon player Jobe Watson hands back Brownlow Medal". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  4. "2012 Brownlow Medal to go to Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin". The Age. Fairfax Media. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  5. "2012 Brownlow Medal: ineligible players". AFL.com.au. Bigpond. 15 September 2012.
  6. Lane, Samantha (12 October 2016). "Essendon Swiss Court decision: Judgment reveals appeal success not even 'entertained'". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  7. Pierik, Jon (12 January 2016). "Essendon CAS verdict: Jobe Watson could be stripped of Brownlow Medal, review in February". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  8. Matt Thompson (11 February 2016). "The Essendon 34 appeal: Frequently asked questions". Archived from the original on 12 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  9. "AFL Commission statement on 2012 Brownlow Medal". Australian Football League. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  10. King, Travis (11 November 2016). "Jobe Watson to hand back 2012 Brownlow Medal". AFL.com.au. Bigpond. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  11. Liam Twomey (13 December 2016). "Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin presented with 2012 Brownlow Medals in special ceremony". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  12. Gerard Whateley (8 February 2017). "Jobe Watson's 2012 Brownlow medal mystery solved". ABC News Australia. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
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