by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from ChicagoEssendon's worst fears were realized on January 11 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport finding 34 past and present players guilty of taking banned substance Thymosin Beta-4. Even with backdating and time served during the provisional suspensions, the active players in both the AFL and at other levels of competition are banished until mid-November. The suspensions also mean no contact whatsoever or training with their respective clubs.Twelve of the 34 are still at Essendon while the others have either retired, been delisted and gone elsewhere or traded.
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.