Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Hints Australian Football League Essendon Is Safe
The head of the anti-doping investigation into Australian Football League club Essendon's '12 supplements program told a meeting of players and coaches that "he would need to have 'rocks in my head' to try to build a case against any player over the use of the contentious hormone peptide AOD-9604," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Head of Intelligence Paul Simonsson "made the frank remark during a meeting at Windy Hill on the day ASADA began its lengthy examination of players." Although there are different interpretations of what Simonsson meant, Essendon "took it as direct confirmation that the vexed legal status of AOD-9604 was too problematic for ASADA to build a successful anti-doping case around." Any charges against Essendon players for using AOD-9604 "would have triggered a lengthy and costly legal challenge about the status of the compound, its performance-enhancing properties and advice provided by ASADA" and the World Anti-Doping Agency about the legality of its use (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/7). In Canberra, McKenzie & Baker reported the confidential ASADA report "detailed the strong faith Essendon coaching and management staff, including James Hird, placed in" sports scientist Stephen Dank and his assurance the program complied with the rules -- "a claim he maintains." ASADA "has also found Essendon staff failed to implement basic governance, management and medical practices to ensure players were not exposed to health and doping risks, and said the club failed to follow its own protocols around the review and use of drugs suggested by Dank" (CANBERRA TIMES, 8/7).
NARROWING THE FOCUS: In Sydney, Caroline Wilson reported Hird "has successfully prevailed on the AFL and the Bombers board in an agitated bid to receive a copy" of the ASADA report. But the Essendon players "have not yet been briefed on the ASADA summary, despite equally determined efforts by the AFL Players Association to view the 400-page document." AFL Players' Association CEO Matt Finnis has criticized the Bombers "for narrowing their focus to the legality of drugs given to their footballers and not the crucial issue of player welfare" (THE AGE, 8/7).