By Zjan Shirinian

Andrew Demetriou explained his reason for stepping down as chief executive of the Australian Football League at a news conference ©Getty ImagesMarch 3 - The chief executive of the Australian Football League (AFL) has announced he is stepping down at the end of the season as a doping scandal engulfs the game.

Fourteen current and former Essendon players were named at the weekend in connection with an investigation into doping.

Under AFL chief Andrew Demetriou's stewardship, the club was excluded from last year's play-offs, after it was charged with administering banned supplements to players.

But in a press conference announcing he was stepping down after 11 years in charge, Demetriou denied his decision was connected with the ongoing scandal.

"I advised [AFL Commission chairman Ausd] officially when we were both over at the Super Bowl that I intended to announce my resignation in early March," he said.

"I've always said that it's a privilege and an honour to serve the game.

"But I also believe that the time is right and I've always believed that, in my 11th year, any organisation needs renewal and needs a fresh set of eyes."

Essendon has been embroiled in a doping scandal that took another twist at the weekend ©Getty ImagesEssendon has been embroiled in a doping scandal that took another twist at the weekend ©Getty Images

He added: "The growth of the game has been extraordinary.

"It's been a wonderful journey full of challenges but I wouldn't have it any other way.

"I leave the game with no regrets."

When asked if his announcement was connected to the weekend's events, Demetriou replied: "None whatsoever."

Speaking about the Essendon scandal he said: "Whether we could've acted earlier, we just weren't in a position there.

"There was enough hearsay to have us worried.

"The AFL has done all it can do in this situation. I'm proud of how we acted last year.

"We've enhanced the anti-doping code.

"What happens thereafter is in ASADA's (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) hands.

"We are well equipped with any issue going forward.''

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