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SBD Global/June 19, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ABC To Broadcast ASADA Investigation Hearing Of AFL Side Essendon, Hird

The fight by Australian Football League side Essendon and suspended coach James Hird to have the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's investigation quashed "will enjoy unprecedented coverage, with ABC television to broadcast live next week's opening directions hearing in the Federal Court," according to Jon Pierik of THE AGE. A spokesperson said, ''Justice Middleton has agreed to allow a live television feed of the directions hearing on Friday, 27 June. The directions hearing starts at 10:15am. ABC television will be responsible for providing this." It will be the first time the Federal Court "has allowed access to a directions hearing, with previous broadcasts only of judgments." The Bombers and Hird, who must provide key elements of their case to Justice Middleton by next Wednesday, "are fighting to have the joint investigation by ASADA and the AFL deemed unlawful, therefore voiding the show-cause notices issued to 34 current and former players." Lawyers acting for the AFL Players Association "have asked for an extension to the 10-day period usually allowed to respond to show-cause notices." ASADA said that "it is considering this application" (THE AGE, 6/18). In Melbourne, Michael Gleeson wrote the Bombers have claimed that ASADA acted outside its powers "and in breach of the act in disclosing information it received in the investigation to an unauthorised person, namely the AFL." Lawyers for Essendon and Hird claim that "under the ASADA Act, the authority had no power to conduct a joint investigation." Under the act, ASADA "is entitled to request any information the AFL obtains in any interviews with players about possible doping breaches." A lawyer observed, "The fact Essendon participated in the investigation for over a year without apparently reserving their right and only acted to injunct it when action was being taken against them would seem a fairly significant hurdle" (THE AGE, 6/18). The AAP reported the AFLPA "has distanced itself from Federal Court action taken by Essendon, asking ASADA to deal with the club's action before it turns to the players." After meeting with players and their legal team on Monday night, the AFLPA said that "it wants the players' cases to be treated separately and seen as separate by ASADA." And, if the players find themselves subjected to bans, the AFLPA has "not ruled out taking action" against any club or individuals who have "deceived" them (AAP, 6/18). In Canberra, Caroline Wilson wrote the revelation that the AFL "feared it could no longer rely upon a deal it believed it had struck with ASADA over the Essendon players will not prove the 'gotcha' moment of this extraordinary saga but does go some way to demonstrating again how disillusioned those players must now feel." On March 7, 2013 there was a "partial publication of an email" sent from then deputy AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to ASADA. The email demonstrated McLachlan's fears that "the anti-doping agency would renege on an original undertaking struck two weeks earlier between the AFL, Essendon and the players union." McLachlan's email of concern to ASADA "immediately followed an email sent from ASADA to McLachlan." In that "the anti-doping agency backed down upon parts of its original agreement with the AFL." ASADA's back-down followed a demand from the National Rugby League that "its players receive a similar guarantee owing to the same exceptional circumstances" (CANBERRA TIMES, 6/18).
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