Sheahan, Newman and Scott signed an official apology and the two episodes in question about Winmar on their podcast will be removed. They will also make a formal apology on their next episode, although Sheahan this week apologised on air and quit his role.
Their official apology on Friday read: “During our 23 June 2020 podcast, we talked about Nicky lifting his jumper and pointing to his skin at the end of the 1993 Collingwood and St Kilda match during which he had been racially abused.
“We acknowledge what Nicky did was an act of Indigenous pride and defiance. It was also a powerful statement of solidarity for Indigenous Australians who are subjected to racism and vilification.
“Any suggestion otherwise was wrong. We have reflected deeply on the issues.
“We accept what was said during the podcast has damaged Nicky’s reputation. We understand many people would regard what we said as racially discriminatory of Nicky and Indigenous Australians.
“For all these reasons, we sincerely apologise to Nicky Winmar and to Indigenous Australians generally.”
Stan Grant, the prominent broadcaster and Indigenous leader, and retired Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein led the mediation at the offices of Arnold Bloch Leibler, where lawyer Leon Zwier, representing Winmar and Ludbey, is based.
Winmar’s jumper-lifting moment is regarded as one of the iconic moments in VFL-AFL history, coming as the Indigenous star took a stand against racial abuse. However, Sheahan, Newman and Scott had questioned on their podcast whether his actions were more about the Saints enjoying a breakthrough win at the venue.
Winmar was angry that he had been subjected to this questioning all these years later. He and Ludbey had threatened legal action, potentially arguing defamation.
Ludbey’s photograph of Winmar lifting his guernsey and pointing at his skin – originally published in The Sunday Age – has become one of the famous images in VFL-AFL history.
Bruce Guthrie, the former Sunday Age editor, took to social media to reinforce Ludbey’s stance.
“Wayne Ludbey has been absolutely consistent on this for 27 years: Nicky Winmar was very definitely making a statement about racism that day. Wayne saw it, heard it and snapped it. It’s why I put the image on page one of The Sunday Age the next day,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ludbey and Sheahan worked together at The Sunday Age and later at the Herald Sun, where Sheahan was the long-time chief AFL reporter.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.