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Essendon players lose Swiss Federal Tribunal appeal over doping bans
The appeals of 34 past and present Essendon players to overturn the AFL doping bans stemming from the Essendon supplements saga have been dismissed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT).
The Swiss Federal Tribunal has ruled not to entertain the appeal launched by players.
The players were given two-year suspensions after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appeal in January of this year.
The SFT ruled that, because the players had earlier accepted the verdict of the CAS, they had "lost their right to challenge the CAS jurisdiction in appeal".
The World Anti Doping Authority (WADA) had contested the earloer decision of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, who said there was insufficient evidence to find the players guilty of offences arising from Essendon’s controversial 2012 supplements program.
The case was born out of an investigation in February 2013 by the Australian Crime Commission, which released the Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report, alleging widespread doping in Australian sport.
As a result, in June 2014, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) initiated action against the players, via the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, alleging doping through the use of the banned peptide Thymosin Beta-4.
The majority were banned for two years but their suspensions were backdated, with some ending next month, clearing them to return to the sport in time for the 2017 AFL season.
They missed the 2016 campaign, which culminated in the Western Bulldogs beating Sydney in the Grand Final.
As a result of the doping bans, Essendon - whose record of 16 Premiership titles is the best in AFL history - failed to qualify for the finals and finished bottom of the 18 teams in the ladder round.
The development has ramifications for Essendon captain Jobe Watson, who received the Brownlow Medal in 2012.
An AFL Commission is reviewing whether he should be allowed to keep the award.
Essendon Chairman Lindsay Tanner said the SFT’s decision had not changed the view that the penalty handed down by the CAS was "manifestly unfair on our players".
Tanner stated "the club received notification ... that the players’ appeal has been dismissed by the Swiss Federal Court
"It is obviously disappointing for our players.
In a statement, ASADA Chief Executive Ben McDevitt noted that the players had agreed to the terms of the CAS arbitration hearing, commenting "you cannot agree to the rules and then expect them to change if you don’t like the outcome.
“Furthermore, CAS exists for the very reason of ensuring sports matters are heard fairly and independently, so it is essential that they be able to review all evidence and are not limited by the findings of sports tribunals.
“This ensures that anti-doping rules are applied consistently between cases, which is crucial in the global fight against doping.”
Noting he was pleased the anti-doping process related to the long- running Essendon supplements debacle was over, McDevitt added “I am proud of ASADA’s persistence in pursuing this case until the truth was revealed."
27th May 2016 - ASADA SUFFERS BUDGET CUTS IN LEAD UP TO RIO OLYMPICS
13th January 2016 - AFL PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION HEAD SAYS ESSENDON PLAYERS VICTIMS, NOT PERPETRATORS
12th January 2016 - COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT UPHOLDS AFL PLAYER BANS
3rd September 2015 - AFL ACCUSED OF ‘DECEPTIVE CONDUCT’ DURING ESSENDON SUPPLEMENTS SAGA
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