Australian Sports Anti-Doping Body Claims Former Essendon Coach Alleges Conspiracy
The Federal Court case against the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Body "has taken a stunning turn," with lawyers for the anti-doping body contending suspended Australian Football League side Essendon coach James Hird had claimed there was a "conspiracy" against him, according to Jon Pierik of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. In the second directions hearing in front of Justice John Middleton on Wednesday morning, lawyer Dan Starr, acting for ASADA, "took aim at the amendments made by Hird in his statement of claim, released on Tuesday." Starr had particular concern with section eight of the claim, where it was stated that "it was a purpose of the joint investigation that the respondent and/or ASADA obtain a benefit it did not otherwise have under the ASADA legislative regime when conducting an investigation." Starr said ASADA was "very concerned" by suggestions the anti-doping body had "got around the Act." Hird and Essendon claim that "the joint investigation between the AFL and ASADA was unlawful" (SMH, 7/2). THE AUSTRALIAN reported the reputations of Essendon players facing doping accusations "will be ruined unless their anonymity is protected during their club’s battle with ASADA, their barrister says." The 34 current and former players "fear being publicly named if they formally join Essendon in a fight against the investigation into the club’s 2012 supplement program." Middleton "expressed concern about the players remaining outside the August trial" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/2). In Canberra, Samantha Lane reported Aurora Andruska’s work for ASADA is over, "with the CEO-turned-consultant making a unannounced departure from the organisation on Monday" (CANBERRA TIMES, 7/2).
BLOOD WORK: In Sydney, Chip Le Grand wrote blood samples of Essendon footballers collected during the '12 season and flown to Europe for secret testing at one of the world’s most advanced sports-drug laboratories "did not contain traces of any banned substance." The previously undisclosed test results indicate that ASADA suspected Essendon players of taking performance-enhancing drugs long before it established Operation Cobia, "a joint investigation with the AFL that is at the centre of a Federal Court dispute" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/3). In Melbourne, Jon Pierik wrote Chief AFL Medical Officer Peter Harcourt has revealed suspicions of Essendon's illegal use of peptides and supplements were so strong that players were tested by ASADA in '12, and fears some players could eventually suffer from ''hormonal issues or cancers" (THE AGE, 7/2).