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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, Apr 2015

  ASADA Not To Appeal Against Verdicts On Essendon And Stephen Dank

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ASADA Not To Appeal Against Verdicts On Essendon And Stephen Dank

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has announced it will not appeal against the guilty findings against 34 past and present Essendon players and controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, who was found guilty on 10 charges.

However, ASADA urged the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to take the matter direct to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority said any appeal against the AFL anti-doping tribunal verdicts on Essendon and Dank would remain within the AFL framework.

ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt gave a hint of a trust in the AFL system by remarking any appeal by ASADA would ultimately serve only to delay consideration of these matters and it may deny an immediate chance to WADA to take the case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. McDevitt said as with all other decisions he has made in these matters this decision has largely been informed by comprehensive legal advice.

The ASADA chief executive added he is conscious that ASADA does not have a direct right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the only appeal avenue open to ASADA at this time is to the AFL anti-doping appeals tribunal. McDevitt added he is also aware that appealing any of these decisions within the AFL framework would ultimately serve only to delay consideration of these matters by the World Anti-Doping Agency. He went on to remark therefore he has arranged to provide the entire case file encompassing all 35 matters to WADA for its independent review and this is in accordance with global anti-doping protocols.

The chief executive of ASADA added that WADA will then be able to make an independent decision as to whether to exercise its appeal options and ASADA will support any WADA initiated appeal in relation to these matters. McDevitt also remarked he wanted the findings of the tribunal to be made public.

The World Anti-Doping Agency now has 21 days to decide whether or not it wants to appeal the case. Its appeal is taken directly to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and not the AFL appeals board.

Meanwhile, Stephen Dank has confirmed he would appeal against the 10 charges laid by the tribunal and also said he is contemplating legal action against ASADA for their investigation. The sports scientist was found guilty of trafficking, attempting to traffic and complicity in matters related to a range of prohibited substances. He was also accused of overseeing what substances the players took and being the architect of the supplements program.

Former ASADA chairman Richard Ings said the charges against Dank do not surprise him. Ings said it has been a long time coming but Stephen Dank has made certain admissions about the distributions about banned substances and that he has a business in peptides that distributes banned substances.

In another development, Essendon coach James Hird has remarked he is ready to testify at a Senate inquiry into ASADA as Dank signaled he would appeal his guilty verdict. Hird remarked he would be happy to tell all about an inquiry he went to Federal Court to derail, assuming Essendon has never told its side of the story.

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Thursday 02, Apr 2015

  Essendon Doping Investigation Criticized By John Fahey

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Essendon Doping Investigation Criticized By John Fahey

Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey has remarked that the Essendon doping investigation that stretched for more than two years was very strange and cumbersome.

Fahey however denied that the investigations are an indictment on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). Fahey said on ABC News Radio there have been months and months and months of inaction whilst court actions were taken by the Essendon club and their coach to prevent the inquiry actually taking place – that was the delay.

     The ex-WADA Chief also said that he would like to see an examination of the regulations because there is a very cumbersome process in place in this country. Fahey also said he had not seen it taking place anywhere else where we can see so many preliminary steps taken before we can actually get to an inquiry and that to him is very unsatisfactory.

The former World Anti-Doping Agency President also said the Essendon club escaped liability despite it being apparent that players did receive injections. Fahey commented there were needles given to numerous players and in this instance they were not satisfied that the drug inside was the one that is on the prohibited list and added that the tragedy for him in all of this is that the Worksafe Victoria department didn’t look at what this meant from an employer-employee relationship.

The investigation was also criticized by Stephen Amendola, the lawyer for Essendon coach James Hird. Amendola remarked there should be a judicial inquiry into the entire investigation and went on to add that reputations have been trashed. Amendola added participation of the AFL compromised the independence of ASADA’s investigation. The lawyer for Essendon coach James Hird said the whole supplements investigation should be subject to a judicial inquiry.

Meanwhile, Chief executive of Australia’s anti-doping watchdog Ben McDevitt has said ASADA would decide on whether to appeal after carefully examining the report. McDevitt also insisted that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is not the enemy and said the fight against doping was not a fight against sport. McDevitt added every time an Australian athlete gets set to compete, whether it be at the Olympics or in a junior sport, whether it be at a team sport or at an individual level, our expectation is that the rights of clean athletes to compete against other clean athletes must be protected and said some may find this hard to believe.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have 21 days to lodge an appeal. WADA director general David Howman said it would consider its options, depending on the actions of ASADA. Howman remarked the matter now rests with the anti-doping organization concerned and other associated bodies to decide whether or not to exercise their rights of appeal. He added once fully reviewed by all parties concerned, and following receipt of the full case file on the tribunal’s ruling, WADA will review the reasons for the decision and determine whether or not to exercise its own right of appeal.

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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.

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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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Saturday 06, Jul 2013

  Bombers Could Lose Competition Points

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Bombers Could Lose Competition Points

The Australian Football League (AFL) has left open the possibility that third-placed Essendon with a 10-3 record in 2013 may be stripped of premiership points over the supplements scandal.

The AFL will consider various options if the Bombers are found guilty following the completion of the anti-doping investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), said AFL general manager of football operations Mark Evans. When asked if Essendon could lose premiership points, Evans said it is certainly within the scope of the (AFL) Commission to do that, but it will be a Commission decision once it has been tabled.

The internal investigation of Essendon has already described what was going on at the AFL club in the year 2012 as a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged. The problems of the team were increased when Essendon Captain Jobe Watson said he believes he was administered AOD-9604 in 2012, saying it was cleared for his use by club medical staff.

The first casualty for the club was Essendon chief executive Ian Robson who rendered his resignation as the fallout from the club’s supplement scandal grows. Robson remarked we now know a lot happened at this club in 2012 that just should not have happened and we let down our players and their families. He also said he is accountable as the CEO and accept his accountability.

This was after an internal investigation by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski was critical of the governance failures of Essendon. Bombers recently released the findings from the Switkowski report that said the use of exotic supplements, frequency of injections, and marginalization of traditional medical staff created a disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged or documented within the club. Though the report did not call for sackings but said the CEO was responsible for overseeing all club matters.

In March this year, the Herald Sun revealed that Essendon players were urged to have up to 40 injections each last season. The team’s coach James Hird was accused by Stephen Danks, who was running the team’s sports science program in 2002, of taking drugs banned for players. The Herald Sun also revealed that Danks ordered another banned substance, Thymosin Beta 4 CJC-1295, from biochemist Shane Charter while working at Essendon but it is not known if the drug was administered to players.

The Essendon Football Club, nicknamed The Bombers, was formed in 1871 as a junior club and as a senior club in 1873. This Australian rules football club which plays in the Australian Football League (AFL) has won 16 Victorian Football league/AFL premierships which, along with Carlton, is the most of any club in the AFL. Today, the Essendon Football Club’s leadership group consists of Jobe Watson (Captain), David Hille (Vice-Captain), Heath Hocking, Brent Stanton, Michael Hurley, David Zaharakis, Brendan Goddard, Dyson Heppell, and Jason Winderlich. The club’s mascot is named Skeeta Reynolds (a mosquito), named after Dick Reynolds. The team mascot was created in honor of the team’s back-to-back Premierships side in the 1920s known as the Mosquito Fleet.

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Wednesday 17, Apr 2013

  Essendon Coach To Meet Anti-Doping Investigators

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Essendon Coach To Meet Anti-Doping Investigators

Withstanding intense pressure over the crisis surrounding AFL club Essendon, coach James Hird is about to tell anti-doping investigators his side of the story.

One of the central figures in the supplements case of the Bombers, Hird will meet the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Despite accusations against him, Hird has refused to stand down as the Australian Anti-Doping Agency and the Australian Football League continue their joint investigation into supplements given to the players last season.

Recently, Essendon commissioned an independent governance investigation into what chairman David Evans called “irregular practices” while the investigations of AFL and ASADA are probably months away from being resolved.

The pressure on the coach of Essendon ramped up dramatically last week after sports scientists Stephen Dank alleged that Hird had taken Hexarelin, which is a banned substance for players but not coaches. AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou made the stunning suggestion that Hird should consider stepping aside temporarily as the Bombers prepared for the match against Fremantle in Perth on Friday night. The coach however refused to stand down. In another development, there were also allegations doing the rounds that Essendon assistant coach Simon Goodwin had also taken Hexarelin. After this, AFL commissioner Bill Kelty admitted meeting the Essendon coach on the weekend to discuss the crisis.

Sports science guru Steve Dank, who was Essendon’s sports science chief last year and came into prominence in Australia as Des Hasler’s chief boffin at NRL club Manly Sea Eagles, accused Hird of injecting a WADA blacklisted drug and also said Essendon players were given the anti-obesity drug AOD9604 before and during the 2012 season. The sports scientist also claimed that he gave an extract to players from pig’s brain that is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the first milk from a mother cow and a bark extract. However, he said nothing he gave to the players was prohibited and said the supplements were safe. Replying to Dank’s claims, Hird said these claims are horrifying to me, and are being made by a person or people who appear determined to destroy my reputation and added that he have at all times fully adhered to, and promoted the WADA code and the AFL rules, and the code of ethics of the Essendon Football Club.

Hird was coping with the pressure, said Essendon assistant coach Mark Thompson and added that we cannot talk about Hird’s meeting with ASADA. Thompson also added that Hird needs support and care and he goes up and down, but he’s still coaching well and he’s strong as he is a strong man and he’s very, very determined. The assistant coach also remarked that Hird is doing his job and also said though the crisis has affected Hird to some extent, he is still very much focused. He also said that if we keep coaching well and the team keeps playing well and we find a way to get through what we’re getting through and we’re still able to do our job well, then that says a lot for our footy club.

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Friday 12, Apr 2013

  Essendon Coach Under Doping Siege

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Essendon Coach Under Doping Siege

The role of coach James Hird in the doping scandal of Essendon is set to come under fresh scrutiny after the former sports scientist of Bombers, Stephen Dank, alleged he injected Hird with a substance which is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The ex-sports scientist, who has done only one other media interview since the Essendon scandal broke, confirmed some of the substances he said he administered to players and coaches during his time at the club. Dank alleged that he injected Essendon coach with Hexarelin, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency since 2004 despite detailed discussions between him and the coach about it that can promote the levels of human growth hormone in the body.

In a statement, Hird said he had no idea of what he was asked to take and said Dank was ‘determined to destroy my reputation.’ The statement said, the coach of Essendon have at all times fully adhered to, and promoted the WADA code and the AFL ruled, and the code of ethics of the Essendon Football Club. Hird has not broken the WADA code by taking Hexareline, even if Dank’s allegations are true, as he is a coach and not an athlete but he maintains that no league rules have been breached by him. Hird remarked that he just can’t wait to get in and talk to ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) and the AFL and cannot wait to clear his name once he has gone and talked to ASADA and the AFL.

A club source said the allegations were outrageous and the club would not rest until the reputation of the high-profile coach was cleared. In a recently-released report, it was also revealed under the claims of Dank that players were administered AOD9604, an anti-obesity drug that WADA says should be classified as banned. However, the legal team of the club insisted that it wasn’t on any banned list when it was part of Dank’s controversial program.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou said allegations that Hird was injected with a drug were “very serious” but added that speculation over whether Hird would stand down should be put off until the ASADA investigation was complete. Essendon chairman David Evans remarked James Hird is a person of great respect of this club and indeed the football community, and the board will not be making decisions on the next steps until the process of the review and the investigation take their course.

Meanwhile, former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings has called for coaches to be subject to the same WADA code as athletes and remarked that coaches under the World Anti-Doping Agency code are not banned from the use of any performance enhancing drugs, which would be banned for the use by their players. He added that when one looks at this case, it is a question as to whether those in a position of leadership who are asking players not to be involved in the use of taking performance-enhancing drugs should, even if allowed to, be using performance enhancing drugs themselves and went on to say that so that’s certainly an ethical issue but from a rule perspective, there is nothing to stop a coach from using performance enhancing drugs.

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