by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Just as the trade period was winding down, it was announced that ASADA was issuing show cause notices to 34 former and current Essendon players in relation to the 2012 supplements program. The notices were individually tailored for each player and included 350 pages which allege the use of the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4. The lengthy documents include summaries of the alleged use and detailed evidence which the players had requested some time ago.
The players have ten days from the day of issue to respond to the notices. According to ASADA, the detailed notices give the players "every opportunity to respond to the allegations ... and ... to lodge a submission for consideration by the independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel (ADRVP)." ASADA expects the panel to convene in November to consider each of the 34 cases but cautioned that the process could take longer than normal due to the complexities of the matter. The players also have the right to waive a response and request a direct hearing by the AFL Tribunal.
According to AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh, legal teams are now reviewing the documents and will advise the players. AFLPA player relations' manager Ian Prendergast was in Canberra to testify before a Senate hearing and said the players should be supported not punished. The committee had been convened to consider new laws to align Australia's laws with WADA.
Prendergast said the players had received a "raw deal" with their mental health and ability to perform being affected throughout the saga. He said "Compare the situation ... to ... workers in another industry, say the construction industry, where construction workers were exposed to asbestos through the lies of their employer ... Would we be talking about punishing those workers, or would we be talking about compensating them? It's a very similar situation ... It's already had a huge toll on these athletes, and if they are handed penalties then they have the potential to end their careers."
Prendergast said the players had taken the proper steps to ensure what they were being given and complied with the rules and had been approved by the club doctor. He said the players had engaged in a series of meetings to talk them through why they were going to be given the substances and this was consistent with the "education" they had received from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the AFL. He further stated that if they had been given banned substances then they had been duped and deceived after putting "their trust in their employer and sports medicine advisers".
Article last changed on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 9:03 AM EDT