Essendon Bombers Rejected Australian Football League's Doping Offer Of Reduced Bans
Australian Football League Side Essendon "rejected an AFL proposal that would have enabled players accused of doping to voluntarily stand down from club duties and reduce any future ban," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. The suggestion of Essendon players taking out “insurance’’ against future penalties imposed by anti-doping authorities "was put last Thursday" to club President Paul Little by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, "ostensibly" with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority support. Under the terms discussed, 34 current and former Essendon players accused of taking a banned peptide "would begin a self-imposed suspension after the club’s final match for the season and remain away from the club until mid-January." In a "carefully worded statement," Little confirmed he had met with McLachlan "but denied that a Cronulla-style deal was offered." Little said, "A number of things were discussed but no offer was put to the club concerning any arrangements about players making admissions in return for agreed sanctions" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/26). In Sydney, McDonald & Honeysett wrote several former Cronulla players "are poised to begin legal action against the club over its 2011 supplements program once the World Anti-Doping Agency signs off on the year-long bans imposed last Friday." At least two players -- concerned about the health implications of the peptides they were exposed to and the financial implications of the bans -- "engaged lawyers to start litigation against the Sharks." But first "the players want to see if WADA confirms the sanctions" handed down by ASADA (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/26). Also in Sydney, Caroline Wilson wrote the Essendon board "has not yet formally discussed the outcome of a voluntary stand-down of its players, several of whom have left the club but all of whom are still being represented by Queen's Counsel David Grace." McLachlan "denied he had specifically discussed player sanctions with Little" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/25).
PLAYERS 'DUPED': In Melbourne, Brad Walters wrote NRL CEO Dave Smith and his ASADA counterpart, Ben McDevitt, said past and present Cronulla players were "duped" into taking performance-enhancing drugs while at the club in '11. But "if so, by whom?" While the players had always maintained they did not take prohibited substances, 12 members of the Sharks' '11 squad on Friday accepted backdated one-year suspensions for "unknowingly and unwittingly" using the banned peptide CJC-1295 and growth hormone GHRP-6 during a four-week period in '11. However, Cronulla officials "are yet to publicly acknowledge that those substances were part of a doping regime at the club in 2011 and no one at the Sharks, the NRL or ASADA has explained who was in charge of that program or how the substances were sourced and administered" (THE AGE, 8/25).