ASADA Email Sent To AFL, Essendon Threatened Four-Year Bans For Dishonesty
Documents prove that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority indicated to Australian Football League side Essendon players "they had the chance to escape breaches of the anti-doping code without penalty if they co-operated, but also spell out the threat of four-year bans for dishonesty or withholding information," according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. An email that was sent to the AFL and distributed to Essendon players early last year "reveals why there is so much angst at the club, which co-operated with the investigation." However, while Essendon and AFL officials "clung to the hope that players could escape suspension through a 'no-fault or negligence' defence, the leaked document spells out just how serious the situation was." The document said, "Any player that is found to have lied or deliberately withheld information from investigators about possible anti-doping violations will be taken to have aggravating circumstances and may face a four-year ban from sport in addition to other consequences that might apply." The "uncertainty surrounding the investigation" was highlighted by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, who has indicated that "all communication with ASADA has ceased since the two organisations completed an initial joint investigation" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/25). In Melbourne, Jon Pierik reported McLachlan has revealed that ASADA has gathered "a lot" of evidence since "ending its joint investigation with the AFL in August last year." This suggests Essendon's players could face an "increasingly prolonged fight to clear their names." Justice John Middleton has told lawyers representing the club and suspended Essendon coach James Hird they need to "file an outline of any further evidence they have by Wednesday afternoon." Middleton has said that he "wants to set down a date for a trial on Friday and is hopeful of eventually dealing with the case as to whether the joint investigation by the AFL and ASADA was unlawful" with "some expedition" (THE AGE, 6/24).