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Tuesday 15, Oct 2013

  Essendon Players Not To Be Charged Immediately

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Essendon Players Not To Be Charged Immediately

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the Federal government have told the Australian Football League (AFL) that ASADA has no immediate plans to start processing doping charges against Essendon players.

However, it is believed that there still seems to be a possibility of infraction notices sent to individual players with the joint investigation by AFL-ASADA into possible use of performance enhancing drugs at Essendon. In another development, AFL chief Andrew Demetriou says he has no knowledge of imminent bans for Essendon players and officials, but he cannot rule them out. Demetriou also hinted that there is a possibility of sanctions hanging over Essendon for all of next season and possibly longer.

Essendon interim CEO Ray Gunston refuted claims that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has plans of putting up infraction notices against players and club officials that could result in lifetime bans from all sport. Gunston said the club understands that there is no factual basis to the story in relation to the issuing of infraction notices at this point in time. An ASADA spokesman said the anti-doping agency is aware of a media report speculating on the issuing of infraction notices in the AFL and it is important to note that under its legislation ASADA is unable to provide specific comments on individual investigations to protect the integrity of the investigation as well as individuals.

Australian Sport Minister Peter Dutton remarked as a general rule ASADA have extensive powers and they will exercise those powers where they see fit and if people have done the wrong thing they will impose bans, they will make sure they investigate matters properly and that’s appropriate.

Coach Tim Sheens when asked if he is concerned the ASADA investigation could potentially derail the World Cup campaign of the Kangaroos said you never get ahead of yourself in this business, so it’s about playing football with the team we’ve picked and if something happens we’ll consider what happens at that point. He added all you do is to prepare well to play football and that’s his role and the team’s role.

Meanwhile, Australian Rugby League commission chairman John Grant has revealed contingency plans are in place in case any of the Kangaroos’ players receive infraction notices resulting from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation during the upcoming Rugby League World Cup. Grant confirmed all interviews with NRL players and relevant officials have been completed and remarked we’ll take whatever actions from a Commission point of view that are appropriate. He added if in fact there is a situation that does come where there’s an infraction notice issued against a player that’s in the squad, there’s a process within the Rugby League World Cup rules whereby a nation can apply to have a replacement but that’s to be determined at that time.

It is widely believed that Essendon doctor Bruce Reid may escape an infraction notice. A report appearing in The Australian suggested that Reid would be cleared of all charges and face no penalty for his role in failing to prevent Essendon players being exposed to health risks and, potentially, anti-doping violations through the injection of exotic supplements.

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Sunday 14, Apr 2013

  NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

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NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

The Australian National Rugby League has come up with an eight-page whistleblower blueprint of the Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP) and the same has been circulated to all 16 clubs in the wake of the ASADA investigation.

The league recently established an integrity unit and a hotline to call with information about doping offenses and this policy makes it clear that whistleblowers will be granted immunity as an incentive. A few months back, there was a push by NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert to electronically audit clubs, inserting computer chips to download files from their hard drives just before Christmas.

The Whistleblower Protection Program may be implemented by the NRL to show to its stakeholders that every move is being reported or monitored and this latest development will be a drive towards self-policing, with officials, players, and even members of the general public encouraged to tip-off information about doping violations, match-fixing or common disciplinary breaches. The blueprint reads: The NRL should promote a culture that encourages the reporting of (misconduct) by implementing a policy for granting administrative immunity for whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the National Rugby League has justified the whistleblower program as another measure of good corporate governance and transparency and a spokesman said if you’re going to set it up, then you have to go the whole way and put the right structures in place and this structure will include two new roles at League Central wherein a Whistleblower Protection Officer will be appointed to liaise with the informant and assure their complete anonymity while a Whistleblower Investigation Officer will then conduct an inquiry into the complaint before passing on his or her findings directly to NRL boss Dave Smith. The entire process would begin with a phone call to a 1300 hotline, an email to a dedicated address or letter to a specific post office box.

The document reads the importance of reporting corrupt and illegal practices and the NRL’s reasons for such reporting should be part of a formalized training program and this should be done as part of any NRL induction and via ongoing training emphasizing the undesirability of malicious or vexatious reporting and those who come forward with false or vindictive complaints could find themselves in the firing line. Whistleblowers will be granted “administrative immunity” from disciplinary proceedings as long as they have not engaged in serious misconduct or illegal activity and players & officials will be regularly educated about the importance of reporting misconduct.

The league has already been approached with two companies with offers to collect the information, with STOPline the preferred provider thanks to its work with Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner. At this point of time, the document is adamant that the stakeholders must be indoctrinated from the moment they join the game. The trick will be to encourage players and officials to actually use the hotline. Meanwhile, many officials, players and agents were shocked and underwhelmed about the concept of the Australian National Rugby League encouraging a culture of dobbing. The NRL, however, remarked that the program won’t be implemented until feedback is gathered from the clubs, who received the document last month.

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Friday 15, Mar 2013

  Bombers Launch Review After Scandal

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Bombers Launch Review After Scandal

An independent review of Essendon’s governance and processes has been announced after revelations last month that the club is involved in a doping investigation. This review will be led by former Telstra chief executive Dr Ziggy Switkowski who will draw on the assistance of Dr Andrew Garnham, a specialist sports physician with particular expertise in sports nutrition.

The review comes three weeks after Essendon asked for assistance from the Australian Football League (AFL) and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) in reviewing the 2012 supplements program of the club. The board is now aware of “irregular practices” at the club, Bombers chairman David Evans said who also added he could not elaborate on what has been uncovered. The team chairman also revealed that there was no timeline set for the review, but he expects it to be completed before the ASADA investigation.

The investigation will look into unnamed supplements that the club gave to players after it was revealed that Essendon players took substances that are banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency code. This review will also be investigating practices in other clubs and other sports to measure the actions and processes of Essendon against best practice and added that members of the club deserve to know what happened, and to have faith the club will take responsibility to fix any problems and added he expects findings of the review to be made public.

Evans further remarked it is difficult for him to reveal anything as there is an investigation going on which he does not want to compromise the integrity of that investigation or compromise the review he just announced. However, the Bombers chairman said no player has tested positive for any performance enhancing substance and the review will start with the governance of the club, from the board level down.

Recently, players of the club met with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) representatives to be told about the next stage of an investigation that is expected to take months. Evans remarked the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency outlined the process for the investigation to continue, including interviews with players to determine if a prohibited substance had been administered. The team has also been named in an Australian Crime Commission (ACC) investigation that found the suspected use of performance enhancing drugs by their players, possibly without their knowledge.

Essendon midfielder Brent Stanton said there are still reasons for optimism that the club will not face the same sort of fallout that has enveloped NRL club Cronulla over an investigation about doping.

In another development, the parents of Essendon players with club officials at the Bombers’ Windy Hills headquarters to seek information as well as assurances in the wake of the performance enhancing drug scandal. Meanwhile, former Bombers sports scientist Stephen Dank said he did not administer any banned substances to players during his time with the club. Three-time premiership winner Tim Watson, father of Brownlow medalist and the current Bombers captain Jobe, said we are very satisfied that our boys are in good hands and the club is doing all they possibly can under the circumstances to clear their names.

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