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Footy World Reacts To Essendon Verdict

 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE REACTIONS

Needless to say, almost everyone was shocked at the decision by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS)- not so much the verdict itself but rather the severity. The 34 past and present players, their families, friends and supporters are devastated. The AFL, AFLPA and Essendon have all excepted the verdict and are and will be the ramifications.
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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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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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WADA Appeals: It Ain't Over Yet Folks

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

On the morning of Tuesday May 12, the Australian Rules Football world woke up to the surprising - but not totally unexpected - news that the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) has decided to appeal the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) verdicts in the Essendon Bombers' supplements case. The world body will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland (with courts also located in Sydney and in New York). A statement released by WADA Director-General David Howman said "After a thorough examination of the evidence ... WADA has decided to lodge its independent right of appeal ... As with all pending cases, and adhering to the proper and normal respect for the integrity of the legal process, WADA will refrain from commenting further ... until a decision has been made by CAS."

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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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Essendon Contingency Plans

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

February 9 to 12, 2015
After a week of uncertainty and speculation, Essendon will field a team in the NAB Cup preseason games. It was rumored that the Bombers might boycott the preseason games, a “one in, all in” scenario. This boycott was for several potential reasons. The first was to protect the anonymity of the “supplements” players (provisionally suspended while the Tribunal considers its decision and ASADA's refusal to leave the suspensions backdated if the players took part in the NAB Challenge). The players involved wanted the suspensions backdated to when they last played in September of 2014.  As a result, they dropped their request to have the provisional suspensions lifted by the AFL Commission which has the power to do so. Bombers Dustin Fletcher and Jobe Watson are already at risk of losing part of the backdating due to the AFL allowing them to play in the International Rules Series late in 2014.

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Essendon Preseason In Limbo

Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Essendon's preseason campaign could be non-existent with up to 18 players on provisional suspensions while the Anti-Doping hearings continue. The Bombers' first NAB Cup game is scheduled for March 7 but the case may not be concluded for several weeks after that. If found guilty, the players could have their sanctions backdated to their last game in September 2014. The club has been in talks with the AFL, which has the power to lift those suspensions to allow the players to compete. Essendon chairman Paul Little said it was unclear whether or not such a move would impact the ability of a player to use this time against a potential sanction in the event of a guilty verdict. He said the club continues to work with "all relevant parties" to clarify the situation and reach a "satisfactory outcome for our players as quickly as possible.”

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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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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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