Under-siege Essendon has effectively declared war on the AFL, calling for the commission chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick, to step in and take over the handling of the supplements scandal.
Angry at the AFL for publicly releasing the charge sheet issued to the club and four key officials, including coach James Hird, Bombers chairman Paul Little declared the club had lost all confidence in the AFL.
"I call on the commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick to step in and take over this process, as I, along with a significant percentage of all football public have lost total confidence in the AFL executive to handle this matter," Little said.
In an escalation of hostilities between one of the league's oldest clubs and the governing body, Little claimed the original charge sheet publicly released by the AFL yesterday was different to a revised charge sheet the club and the AFL had agreed to after a series of negotiations.
Little slammed the AFL for releasing what the Bombers claim was the original charge sheet and said the club would publish the revised charge sheet on its own website.
Hird, also furious at the release of the charges, declared he had been denied due process and accused the AFL of running a "trial by media" vendetta against him.
Little also claimed that the league had known that the contentious drug AOD-9604 - one drug mentioned in the charge sheet - was not banned for six months and yet the AFL refused to inform the public, leaving the players and the club to wear the brunt of the intense scrutiny.
He said that the original charge sheet made assertions that the Bombers may have taken performance-enhancing drugs, and that the club strongly denied those charges.
"Timing of the release is no coincidence. The release follows last night's revelations that the AFL has known since February of this year that one of the substances at the very heart of this matter - AOD 9604 - was not banned and was not a banned substance," Little said.
"That the AFL has known this for six months but let questions hang over the head of the club and most unforgivably our players, is reprehensible," he said.
"We do not consider the statement of charges is justified by the evidence gathered by the investigation. We have always maintained AOD-9604 is not a prohibited substance in 2011-2012 and advice of professional experts has supported this.
"Since receiving these charges I have personally been in constant dialogue with the AFL in which both parties have attempted to have the charges reworked and reach common ground in relation to possible sanctions should the club plead guilty.
"The AFL was aware of the failings of the original charge sheet. The revised charge sheet has been posted on our website."
But the league also went on the front foot with AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon saying earlier yesterday the league "has consistently acknowledged the uncertainty concerning the status of AOD-9604".
"The AFL has worked diligently with ASADA to get clarification on the status of AOD-9604 for the purposes of the Essendon FC investigation," he said.
Hird said he would fight the charges released by the AFL - confirming that he wanted AFL boss Andrew Demetriou to stand down from any commission hearing and for an independent judge to hear the charges against him in public.
"The AFL today continued its trial by media of me. We only received notification minutes before the AFL charges were made public," he said.
"The AFL should recuse themselves of any part of this case. And there should be a public hearing conducted transparently by an independent arbiter."