by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The Swiss Court For Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by the 34 former and current Essendon players. The player were initially cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, but WADA's appeal to CAS overturned that verdict and the players then launched their appeal against the banishment. With the penalty backdated to account for procedural delays, the players were effectively ruled out of the entire 2016 season.
The appeals dismissal is the last chapter in Essendon's supplement saga. The players were banned for two years, but with the backdating, the players are free to return to Essendon and elsewhere, with many players no longer with the Bombers, in November.
The players had appealed on the basis that CAS did not have the power to conduct a de novo hearing - essentially, a fresh case. However, CAS ruled that the players had lost the right of challenge by agreeing to the CAS rules after WADA launched their appeal against the AFL Tribunal's not guilty verdict. CAS announced that the penalties issued in January would stand.
The findings are written in German and will need to be translated before anyone involved can make any concrete statements. However, Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner did release a statement saying the "... result was "obviously disappointing" for the players ... We maintain our view that the decision and penalty handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport was manifestly unfair on our players." He reiterated that the club is 100% behind the players.
The AFL Commission will now have to meet to determine whether or not Jobe Watson should be stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal. AFL CEO Gil McLachlan has already said he would recuse himself from the deliberations. In an interview several months ago, he said, "I think the people charged with the responsibility of making that decision will not have made a more difficult decision - not just in their time in football, but almost in their lives ... that will be as hard a decision as anyone on the Commission has had to make ...".
The AFL has already set November 15 as the date for the hearing. Should the Commission decide to strip Watson of the medal, it would go to Richmond's Trent Cotchin and Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell as they finished tied in second place for the honor. Cotchin was interviewed in March and said he would not accept the medal in such awkward and controversial circumstances and he would not feel good about being in that situation, "It's certainly not the way you would want to win a Brownlow Medal," he said.
The 34: Where Are They Now?
Still at Esseendon: Jobe Watson, Michael Hurley, Dyson Heppell, Tom Bellchambers, Ben Howlett, Travis Colyler, Heath Hockng, David Myers, Brent Stanton, Cale Hooker
Michael Hibbard recently announced he wants to be traded and Tayte Pears announced his retirement to persue a career as a fireman.
At other clubs: Jake Carlilse (St Kilda), Stewart Crameri (Western Bulldogs), Angus Monfries and Patrick Ryder (Port Adelaide), Jake Melksham (Melbourne)
Retired: Dustin Fletcher, Alwyn Davey (plays in NTFL), Nathan Lovett- Murray (coach in Murray Football League), Mark McVeigh (assistant at GWS)
Delisted: Alex Browne (Northern Blues, VFL), Luke Davis (Essendon District Football League), Cory Dell'Olio (South Fremantle)), Leroy Jetta (Peel Thunder, WAFL), Ariel Stenberg (Williamstown, VFL), Brent Prismall (Footscray, VFL), Brendan Lee (East Perth, WAFL), Ricky Dyson (Northern Football League), Henry Slattery (coaching in SA), Kyle Hardingham (Essendon, VFL)
Article last changed on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 1:26 AM EST