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Tuesday 12, May 2015

  WADA To Appeal Against AFL Tribunal Decision

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WADA To Appeal Against AFL Tribunal Decision

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced it will appeal against decision of the Australian Football League to clear 34 current and former top players of taking banned supplements.

In March, the AFL anti-doping tribunal unanimously decided that it was not “comfortably satisfied” that players from the Essendon club had violated the anti-doping rules during the 2012 season. Last year, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) referred the case to the Australian Football League. Surprisingly, ASADA decided not to appeal the findings when the AFL Tribunal when it cleared all 34 Essendon players.

WADA announced that it would soon take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. WADA director general David Howman said we have now completed our independent review of the full case file on the AFL Anti-Doping Appeals Tribunal decision regarding 34 current and former Essendon players. Howman added WADA, after a thorough examination of the evidence contained within the file, has decided to lodge its independent right of appeal to the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A WADA statement reads as with all pending cases, and adhering to the proper and normal respect for the integrity of the legal process, WADA will refrain from commenting further on the subject until a decision has been made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Essendon chairman Paul Little expressed surprise at decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Meanwhile, ASADA welcomed the announcement and offered to provide its full support. Little added now it looks like we have to jump back on the horse and sort of get into the process again of defending our boys and our club. ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt said the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has handed over a comprehensive brief of evidence to assist WADA in its preparation for the CAS hearing.

Essendon coach James Hird remarked that Essendon players will “prove their innocence again.” Hird remarked there is no doubt it will cause stress again but we’re prepared to go through it and went on to add that we believe in the players’ innocence, they’ve been proven innocent once and they will be proven innocent again. Hird also remarked that we are extremely disappointed for the players who have had to endure over two years of uncertainty and will now have to endure further stress and the inevitable disruption to their playing careers. The coach of Essendon club also commented that we will be in a position to comment on this matter further once we have consulted with the players’ legal team and the players involved.

Peter Jess, a player agent to two of the 34 Essendon players, remarked that this whole process has been incredibly demanding on the playing group and added it drags them back into the vortex of a demoralizing and energy sapping investigation, which no player should rightfully have to go through.

Tim Watson, the father of Essendon captain Jobe Watson, remarked the players got to a point where they were able to compartmentalize the whole thing, and they all breathed that sigh of relief when they heard the tribunal’s closure and now it’s going to be reopened.

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Monday 20, Oct 2014

  Fresh Show-Cause Notices For Essendon Players

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The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has issued fresh show-cause notices against 34 former and current Essendon players. These amended notices include 350 pages of evidence tailored for each player surrounding the alleged use of the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4.

Thymosin Beta 4 is banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. It is a peptide hormone that increases laminin-5 expression in corneal epithelium and accelerates wound healing, hair growth, and angiogenesis.

A statement issued by ASADA read the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has issued amended ‘show cause’ notices to 34 former and current Essendon football players for the use of a prohibited substance, Thymosin Beta 4, during the 2012 season. The ASADA statement reads the resumption of action against the players follows the Federal Court’s dismissal of the applications by the Essendon Football Club and James Hird on 19 September 2014 and added that ASADA has notwithstanding James Hird’s appeal of the Federal Court decision agreed to a formal request by the legal team for the bulk of the players to expedite the ‘show cause’ notice process.

The evidence covering text messages, emails, invoices, and testimony from a range of witnesses included that Thymosin beta-4 was sourced from a Shanghai factory and it was administered to Essendon players. ASADA has alleged that Thymosin beta-4 from Chinese chemical maker GL Biochem (Shanghai) Pty Ltd was administered to the current and former Essendon players during the 2012 season. However, Essendon vehemently denied use of Thymosin beta-4 and said a different and permitted type of Thymosin was used at the club.

ASADA has spoken with Shane Charter, an anti-ageing clinician and pharmacist, who was allegedly involved in the supply of the substance to Essendon. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority also has text messages from Stephen Dank, the Bombers’ former sports scientist, in which the effects of a “Thymosin” have been described, which the Australian Football League has argued could only be attained from the banned form. Charter has alleged that Stephen Dank asked him to source Thymosin beta-4 in quantities that would be sufficient to treat a football team. Charter, who has run anti-ageing clinics, said Thymosin beta-4 was delivered to pharmacist Nima Alavi, of Como Compounding to be collected by Dank. The claims of Charter have been checked with Customs by investigators.

Nima Alavi, who initially refused to help the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority citing legal advice, provided evidence to investigators and alleged that the substance sourced by Charter arrived at his pharmacy marked simply as “Thymosin” and Stephen Dank took it from him to be tested at a Melbourne lab. Alavi also revealed that Dank told him later that the chemicals were not up to the mark and had been destroyed by Mimotopes, the lab, which reportedly has no record of receiving or destroying peptides from Dank in early 2012.

Industry insiders believe that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority decided to pursue anti-doping charges against Essendon after the case’s independent reviews backed the move as the evidence was deemed to satisfy the standard of proof in anti-doping cases.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Fresh Show-Cause Notices For Essendon Players

Wednesday 27, Aug 2014

  Doping Offer Of Reduced Bans Rejected By Essendon

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Doping Offer Of Reduced Bans Rejected By Essendon

A proposal by Australian Football League (AFL) has been rejected by Essendon Bombers that would have allowed players accused of doping to stand down voluntarily from club duties. This proposal would also have reduced any future bans on the accused players. The definitive six-month suspension would have seen Essendon players facing anti-doping sanctions to miss the last four games of the home-and-away season and finals but return in time for round one of 2015.

Recently, it was rumored that Essendon players were thinking about taking about “insurance” against future penalties imposed by anti-doping authorities. Under the discussed terms, 34 current and former Essendon players who are accused of using a banned peptide (Thymosin Beta-4) would start a self-imposed suspension after final match of the club for the season and remain away from the club until mid-January. The time served, under a provision within the World Anti-Doping Code, may be used to offset any ban that gets imposed against players at a future date when found guilty of a doping offence.

Essendon players, while being stood down, may be prohibited from training at the Tullamarine facility of the club but were allowed to train as a group off-site. This proposal was presented to the board of Essendon Bombers as having the in-principle support of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) though it now becomes apparent that the anti-doping authority did not have idea of the discussion of AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan with club president Paul Little.

Last Thursday, the Essendon board met at Melbourne’s Hyatt Hotel and unanimously rejected the offer. In a carefully worded statement, club president Paul Little said he had met with McLachlan but denied that a deal like Cronulla-style was offered. Little remarked a number of things were discussed but no offer was put to the club concerning any arrangements about players making admissions in return for agreed sanctions. Little also said the Essendon Football Club board were fully briefed on these discussions and will continue to act and make decisions in the best interest of our players.

ASADA chief Ben McDevitt said it would be completely inappropriate and quite contemptuous to negotiate with Essendon before the legality of ASADA’s investigation is ruled by the Federal Court.

AFLPA’s acting chief executive Ian Prendergast reiterated that any decision over sanctions was up to the players. In a statement, Prendergast said the 34 players continue to be represented by the legal team consisting of David Grace QC, Ben Ihle, AFL Players Association lawyers Brett Murphy and Bernie Shinners, and Tony Hargreaves. He also remarked the players’ legal team is independent of the Essendon FC and is focused solely on protecting the best interests of the 34 players who have been issued show-cause Notices by ASADA and also said the 34 players are the ones who will ultimately decide how they wish to proceed in this matter.

In another development, Essendon coach James Hird returned to work after serving a 12-month ban imposed by AFL for failure on his part to prevent the ill-fated supplements regime of the club that was designed by sports scientist Stephen Dank.

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Friday 20, Jun 2014

  Essendon Players May Not Even Miss Training

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Essendon Players May Not Even Miss Training

A generous clause in the Australian Football League’s anti-doping code means the chances of any Essendon player even missing a training session may be significantly reduced.

The clause is expected to give great comfort to Essendon players who have been fighting the battle against doping allegations. This clause deals with delays in hearings that are outside the control of players. It is rumored that this is the same clause about which AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan talked about on the possibility of backdating penalties and serving suspensions in the off-season. Updated in March, Rule 14.7 clause (A) of the code emphasizes on the timing of player sanctions. The code addresses likely options for the anti-doping tribunal to consider under the heading “Delays Not Attributable to the Athlete or other Person.”

This clause reads, the tribunal determining the sanction may start the period of ineligibility at an earlier date commencing as early as the date of sample collection or the date on which another anti-doping rule violation last occurred where there have been substantial delays in the hearing process or other aspects of doping control not attributable to the player or other person. The last “anti-doping violation” under rule 14.7 would have to relate to season 2012 as there are no positive tests involved in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority inquiry into Essendon. If that was not all, the ban would lapse under clause (A) in rule 14.7 even if the players were given a suspension of two years for taking prohibited substances.

It was recently indicated by players’ association acting chief executive Ian Prendergas that they would continue to fight against allegations included in the show-cause letters rather than seeking the reduced penalty. Prendergast added Essendon players had done nothing wrong and had fully cooperated throughout the process of 16 months.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority sent show-cause letters to 34 footballers who were at Essendon in 2012 and twenty of those footballers still remain on the Essendon playing list. This letters were sent in response to the club running a controversial and possibly illegal supplements program under former Sport Science Chief Stephen Dank.

New ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt said clubs do have huge legal capabilities behind them but he have got to do this without fear or favor and I am not about to baulk because of the potential cost or duration of any litigation. McDevitt added we believe there is a case to answer and we are going to proceed along those grounds and added that we have started this and he intends to see this through to a resolution one way or another. He also added these processes can be, by their nature, protracted because they involve complex ­investigations being conducted to compile briefs of evidence, which then need to be very carefully considered by legal entities. A few days back, McDevitt remarked that sanction could be reduced to six months if the players could prove there was no intent to breach Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority rules and they gave all the assistance they could to the authority.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Essendon Players May Not Even Miss Training