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SBD Global/June 18, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Banned Players Of Australian Football League Side Essendon May Not Miss A Match

The six-month suspension deal for players of Australian Football League side Essendon on the end of the show-cause letters sent by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "has just become a lot more attractive following confirmation from the AFL that the bans can be served in the off-­season," according to Smith & Denham of THE AUSTRALIAN. AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan confirmed that precedent and the AFL anti-doping code "make it clear that the league anti-doping tribunal has the flexibility to backdate penalties or have them served out of season." That "opens the way now for the 34 players who were at Essendon during the outrageous supplement program supervised by medicine man" Stephen Dank in '12 "to miss very little football" if they accept the deal ­offered by ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt last weekend. The normal penalty for breaching the ASADA code by taking a prohibited substance is two years. McDevitt has said that "it is possible to halve that if the athlete admits his error and then further cut by another six months if he provides genuine assistance to the drug authority" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/18). Also in Melbourne, Chip Le Grand reported every Essendon footballer who told ASADA investigators he was injected by Dank during the '12 season "has received a “show cause’’ notice accusing him of taking a banned peptide." Although the show cause not­ices refer only to Thymosin Beta 4, ASADA "has included in its case all players who received injections of any kind from the sports scientist" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/17).

LEGAL OPTIONS: In Melbourne, Jon Pierik reported Essendon players "will seriously consider taking legal action against the club should they be found guilty of taking a banned substance." The 34 players issued the show cause notices "discussed a range of issues with their five-man legal team." Players "have yet to discuss in detail what the legal action would entail but those close to the players admit it will be a serious prospect if their individual cases fail." At least one player manager has said that "he will explore legal action for his clients." Lawyers believe that players "would most likely not be paid should they be suspended" (THE AGE, 6/17). In Melbourne, Pierik also reported the saga "is set for another revealing twist." Former fitness boss Dean Robinson is suing the club for almost A$2M to "subpoena an array of prominent people." Robinson said the Bombers "have until July 18 to distribute subpoenas," with Robinson likely to force suspended Essendon coach James Hird, former football Operations Manager Danny Corcoran, former CEO Ian Robson, club doctor Bruce Reid and even current Chair Paul Little "to give evidence in court or provide relevant information." Robinson could also seek McLachlan and former CEO Andrew Demetriou "to give evidence relating to why he was suspended" (THE AGE, 6/17). Also in Melbourne, Michael Warner reported an "explosive email" from the AFL to the ASADA "reveals why Essendon players believed they would escape doping bans." The email, also sent to then-PM Julia Gillard’s office, "sheds light on a major split between the AFL and ASADA over a behind-the-scenes agreement struck in February last year" (HERALD SUN, 6/17).

TAKING COVER: In Melbourne, Nick Toscano reported an official request "has been lodged" with the Victorian WorkCover Authority "for an investigation into supplements programs at nine Victorian AFL clubs." The "request for prosecution" of the clubs, received on Tuesday, accuses Carlton, Collingwood, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, St. Kilda and the Western Bulldogs "of health and safety breaches." Essendon "is already being investigated by WorkCover" (THE AGE, 6/17).
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