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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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AFL Trade Action

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The two week trade period saw a lot of action and concluded on October 17. A number of players requested trades to other clubs while others were moved on reluctantly. Clubs also traded draft selections to strengthen their prospects in picking up needed players.

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List Changes Announced

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

With the trade period soon to commence, several more clubs have announced changes to their lists.

Christian Howard, Tom Young and Brett Goodes have been delisted by the Western Bulldogs. Young was originally drafted by Collingwood and played nine games 2011-12 before being traded to the Bulldogs where he played a further 15 games. Goodes debuted in 2013 and played 15 games. He recently played in the Bulldogs VFL premiership win. Howard was drafted in 2009 but a hip injury wiped out the first half of 2010 and he spent the remainder of the year in the VFL. He debuted in 2011 and played six games. The young defender/wingman had an excellent preseason in 2012 before a knee injury sidelined him for six weeks. He came back to play 11 games. Named as an emergency six times, he managed only one game in 2013 and just seven more in 2014.

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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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Roo Resurgence Eliminates Bombers

Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Victoria

In a no holds barred Second Elimination Final in front of 78559 fans, Essendon lined up against North Melbourne for the right to advance further into the Finals series. The Bombers had much to prove after two tumultuous seasons marred by the ASADA investigation into the use of prohibited substances at the club in 2012. Banned from the 2013 Finals series as a result, finally they had a chance to play on the big stage and give their fans something to celebrate. For North Melbourne it was “make or break’ type pressure hanging over their heads with the absence of team “barometer” Brent (Boomer) Harvey (through suspension) a definite disadvantage.
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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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Bombers Take Dreamtime Honors

Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia

A massive crowd of over 80,000 footy fans streamed into the MCG to witness the Dreamtime clash between the Essendon Bombers and the Richmond Tigers. The game had been built up as a battle between two up and coming teams. The Bombers were sitting pretty near the top of the AFL Ladder with a 6-1 record versus the Tigers who were coming off good wins against Port and Sydney to be knocking on the door of the Top Eight.

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MCG Milestone

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Round 4 saw the MCG host its 2500th game when Carlton and Essendon faced off. In a way, it was fitting that two of the League's foundation clubs played this historical game. Indeed the milestone could well have been reached some years ago except for the fact that the powers that were way back in 1896 refused to allow the new game of Aussie Rules to be played on the ground for fear it would ruin the surface for summer cricket. The first game of footy was played at the hallowed ground in 1879.

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Eagles Fly To Fourth

Keeping their fairytale season on track, the West Coast Eagles moved into fourth position on the Ladder with a decimation of arch rivals Essendon. The Bombers ran out of legs and players as the game wore on in very warm, late winter conditions in Perth.

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