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Banned Bombers Lose Appeal

 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.

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World Court: Essendon 34 Guilty

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

Essendon'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.

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Three Way Trades

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

During the trade period, there were several deals involving three clubs exchanging draft selections which they acquired in trades with other clubs as well as player movement. Below are the deals involving the players trade.

A three club deal was done in which Collingwood, North Melbourne and Brisbane traded players and draft selections. The final outcome saw Brisbane's James Aish move to Collingwood and North's Ryan Bastinac move to Brisbane. Collingwood traded their round two selection (currently number 26) and 2016 on-traded round two selection to the Brisbane Lions for Aish. Bastinac played 121 games while Aish played 32 games.

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AFL Drug Policy Revamped

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The AFL's illicit drug policy has had its critics over the years, with many believing that players should be "named and shamed" and punished after just one "strike" rather than waiting until a third positive test. Many also believe that AFL clubs should be notified of the player's name after the first positive test.

That has now changed with the League reviewing the existing policy and instituting changes which will see players named publicly, fined and suspended for four matches if they record a second positive test. After a first strike, the player name will still remain anonymous but there will be a $5000 suspended fine. A third strike will incur a 12 match suspension.

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Player Trades

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Mid-October was a busy time for all clubs with the free agency and trade periods commencing. Everything was concluded on the afternoon of October 22.

Under a new rule, the AFL has allowed clubs to trade future draft picks. Each club is allowed to trade just one first round selection and no more than two of these over a four year period. The AFL also created a valuation points system to determine compensation selections for clubs who lose players due to free agency.

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Player Moves Around AFL

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

After the Round 23 game, Gold Coast's Harley Bennell was involved in an undisclosed incident which saw him issued with a "public nuisance" notice.

It was the final straw for the Suns who have announced that he will be traded. Bennell has had a number of off-field issues, not the least of which was the publication of photographs of him apparently indulging in illicit drugs. The pictures were from a 2013 trip but were only published in the newspapers in June this year.

After this latest incident, a series of meetings were held between club officials, coaching staff, the leadership group and Bennell's management. CEO Travis Auld issued a statement confirming the decision to dump Bennell was unanimous.
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Tigers Turn Bombers Dreamtime Into Nightmare

Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

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Undoubtedly the biggest game of the AFL’s Indigenous Round - one that celebrates Australia’s indigenous population and their contribution to the game of AFL - is the “Dreamtime at the G” clash between Essendon and Richmond. Almost 84,000 fans packed the MCG to watch this year’s encounter, with both Essendon and Richmond desperate for victory to keep in touch with the Top Eight. The Bombers, having already beaten the reigning Premier in Hawthorn, had shown sporadic form heading into Saturday night’s game, while the Tigers seemed to be finding their mojo with consecutive wins against Collingwood and Port Adelaide after a poor start to the season. There was more to celebrate for Essendon fans as stalwart fullback Dustin Fletcher was playing his 400th AFL game - an amazing achievement given the demands on the modern AFL player.
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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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Tigers Hit Bombers For Six

Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

A little over a month and a half ago, the Richmond Football Club was languishing near the bottom of the AFL table, an abysmal 3-10 record reflecting a lost season after a promising return to Finals in 2013. Fast forward to their Round 20 game against arch-rivals Essendon with the Tigers a chance to take their record to 9-10 and retain a sniff of the possibility of Finals footy. Essendon itself has been in good shape to appear in the Finals after a horror 2013 when they finished eighth, only to have their points stripped due to the ASADA drug saga, vaulting Carlton from ninth position into the top eight. A win against Richmond would set the Bombers up nicely to play in the major round, despite missing their Captain Jobe Watson since Round 12.
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Essendon Takes ASADA to Court

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

On June 12 ASADA, after 16 months, finally took the first step towards charging Essendon players with the use of illegal substances during the club's 2012 supplements program. ASADA has issued "show cause" notices to 34 past and current Essendon players. The notices are not infraction notices, rather they are notices for the players to respond to and explain why they should not be charged. They have ten days from notification to respond. The notices refer to the use of a peptide known as thymosin Beta 4. There has been no mention of the controversial anti-obesity drug AOD-9604.

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