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SBD Global/February 6, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency Defends Pace Of Drugs Probe

The threat of doping bans still hangs over NRL side Cronulla.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency revealed that "it had conducted more than 280 interviews, reviewed 120,000 documents and issued disclosure notices to 13 individuals as it launched a spirited defence of its year-long investigation into Australian sport," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. ASADA, which has "come under increasing scrutiny over its painstaking investigation," claimed that misinformation and lack of cooperation "had hindered its ability to complete a process that began 12 months ago." The one-year anniversary of the so-called "darkest day in Australian sport" arrives Friday. It also insisted that "changes in governance across the major sports had justified its actions over the past year." It added that its investigation was "ultimately about protecting player health and welfare, and ensuring Australian sport was free of drugs" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/6). In Sydney, Josh Massoud reported ASADA "has used its new legislative powers" to compel 13 people to give evidence in the drugs-in-sport probe. But ASADA "refused to nominate a completion date, blaming uncooperative witnesses and misinformation for dragging the investigation to the brink of a second footy season." An ASADA spokesperson said, "The pace of the investigation has always relied on the level of cooperation from individuals" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/5).

LINGERING THREAT: In Melbourne, Ron Masters wrote a recent email from ASADA to sports scientist Stephen Dank indicates that the threat of bans "still hangs over" players of National Rugby League side Cronulla, while Essendon players "may no longer be on the anti-doping body's radar." In an email request last month that Dank meet its officials, ASADA "suggested he could help bring closure to the inquiry and allow some resolution for Sharks players following the year-long saga." No mention was made in that same email, however, of "Dank delivering closure to Essendon players" (THE AGE, 2/6).

'POORLY HANDLED': In Melbourne, Samantha Lane reported while Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates said that it could still take years to resolve such a complex investigation, other interested parties "have lamented ham-fisted handling of highly sensitive subject matter." Coates: “It is important for all concerned -- players, support staff, the clubs, NRL, AFL, WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] and any others -- that ASADA is thorough and follows due process." Victorian Institute of Sport CEO Anne Marie Harrison "candidly reflected on events" last year that were "poorly handled and led to more questions than answers being able to be provided" (THE AGE, 2/6). In another piece, Lane wrote ex-ASADA Chair Richard Ings stands by his assessment that last year's drugs revelation was Australia sport's "blackest day." Ings has also said that ASADA -- having been front and center when the Australian Crime Commission tabled its report into corruption and drugs in sport -- "should now give a meaningful public update on the progress of its investigations." Reflecting on "an unprecedented announcement that suggested the world of Australian sport was about to cave in, when the reality was actually quite different," Ings said he felt "very sorry for ASADA," which was "forced" to launch investigations into the Australia Football League and NRL in an "unrelenting spotlight" (THE AGE, 2/6).

SHARKS IN THE WATER: In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported Cronulla has "been rocked by news a third player is now suing the club." Former player Broderick Wright is "taking legal action against the club," joining ex-teammates Isaac Gordon and Josh Cordoba (SMH, 2/5).
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