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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