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Tribunal Announces Essendon Decision

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE VERDICT IS IN - NOT GUILTY
The saga that has lasted over two years is finally over with the Anti-Doping Tribunal clearing all 34 players involved in the supplements program.The verdict was unanimous and in a statement Tribunal Chairman David Jones spelled out the reasons:

  • The Tribunal was comfortably satisfied that the substance Thymosin Beta-4 was at the relevant time a prohibited substance under the Code.
  • The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4.
  • The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the Anti-Doping Code.

The statement also said that a decision regarding "a former Essendon support person" (read: Stephen Dank) would be made at a later date. Whether or not the full 133-page decision document or part of it will be made public is left up to the players, the club and their lawyers. Leaked copies have apparently reached some in the media. In summary, the panel conceded there was insufficient evidence against the players to establish that they had taken TB-4 and it could not be established that the substance they were injected with was in fact, TB-4. The credibility of the key individuals involved was so low and the chain of custody and record keeping so suspect, exactly what was injected could not be proven.

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Hird Drops Appeal As Essendon Signs Two More

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Essendon coach James Hird has decided not to appeal his case against ASADA, despite his strong belief that the original investigation was illegal. He said he made the decision not to appeal so he and the club could focus on a successful 2015. In a statement, Hird said he had been fighting "on principle" and still believes that the players and club staff were not afforded the rights they deserved by ASADA.

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Hird Loses Case As ASADA Adjourns

Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

James Hird has had his appeal against the ASADA-AFL investigation denied, with the judge stating that the players "had suffered no unfairness in the way ASADA conducted its interviews" and that there was nothing unlawful in ASADA using the power of the AFL to assist in the investigation. Justice Susan Kenny also based her decision on the fact that the players volunteered to be interviewed and that the information they gave was done so with both ASADA and the AFL present during the interviews. Her statement said in part, "the appeal fails because the appellant failed to show that the investigation conducted by ASADA in cooperation with the AFL was not authorized by the ASADA Act". She also ordered Hird to pay all court costs, estimated to be $500,000.

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AFL Could Face Player Lawsuits

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Former Bomber Nathan Lovett-Murray is set to file a civil suit against the AFL as a result of the Essendon supplements saga, regardless of the outcome of the ASADA hearings. Currently playing for a local club, he is one of the 34 players who may or may not have been injected with Thymosin beta-4. Like the others, he could be facing a two year ban if the hearings rule in favor of ASADA.

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AFL Issues Infraction Notices

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The day after the 34 past and present Essendon players were placed on the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel's register of findings, the AFL took the final step prior to Tribunal hearings and issued infraction notices. The notices charge the players over the alleged use of the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4 in 2012. The AFLPA hopes this next step will see the matter resolved quickly. In a statement, AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh said "The decision ... to issue infraction notices keeps this process moving and we look forward to this issue being resolved as soon as possible."

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Busy Week In Bomberland

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

James Hird has finally had his day – actually two days – in court as he tries to have the ASADA investigation declared illegal. Speaking on his behalf, James Hird’s attorney Peter Hanks told the court that ASADA had illegally recruited the AFL in an effort to coerce those under investigation to answer questions. ASADA, in and of itself, has no such coercive power while anyone working within the AFL industry must answer questions put to them by the League or face sanctions. 

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Coaching Appointments

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Just weeks after his resignation as the Western Bulldogs' senior coach, Brendan McCartney was appointed development and strategy coach with the Melbourne Demons. He joins Brett Allison, Brad Miller and newly appointed full-time Casey coach Justin Plapp, in Melbourne’s development team for 2015. He will remain in that role until assistant coach Simon Goodwin takes over from Paul Roos in 2017 as senior coach, at which time he will move into a mentor and management role.

In making the announcement, football operations manager Josh Mahoney said the club was delighted to have McCartney on board. “He has a proven record and reputation in developing players and his appointment adds valued experience to our development program ... Simon has previously worked with Brendan ... at Essendon and identified him as the ideal candidate ... to assist his transition into senior coaching."

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ASADA Witness Arrested As Essendon Rebukes Notices

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago


During the height of the Essendon supplements investigations, there were reports linking Shane Charter, a bodybuilder who runs an anti-aging clinic, to Stephen Dank and supplying Dank with certain compounds. ASADA had Charter set to testify that he did supply Dank with the banned substance Thymosin beta 4. Dank continues to deny he gave the players anything illegal. However, Charter was arrested at the end of October and charged by police on up to a dozen drug charges including possession and trafficking  of steroids and possessing a dangerous poison. The arrest came after several undercover police posed as athletes seeking consultation with Charter. The police have seized Charter's computer and searched his records. The investigation of Charter has been going on for a year. There are also customs' records as he was searched at the airport. Charter plans to fight the charges.

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Hird To Appeal ASADA Ruling

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

James Hird has defied Essendon's wishes and filed an appeal against the court's decision regarding the ASADA affair even after the club said they would not appeal. There was rampant media speculation that Hird was about to be axed at a special board meeting the day after the club's champion awards. Hird was a notable absentee at the function but still remains Essendon coach.

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Essendon Loses ASADA Case

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Preliminary Final weekend was not only about the four teams vying for a chance to play in the Grand Final. Justice Middleton, who has been overseeing the Essendon-ASADA court case, handed down his decision after reviewing all the testimony presented in August. He ruled in favor of ASADA, saying all parts of the ASADA investigation had been lawful, including the provision of the interim report to the AFL. He also noted that neither Essendon, James Hird nor the players brought legal proceedings to challenge the provision of the interim report at the time.

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