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Melbourne media cast doubts over ASADA’s handling of Essendon doping scandal

Melbourne media cast doubts over ASADA’s handling of Essendon doping scandal
October 16, 2019

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has defended its handling of the 2012 drug supplements saga after claims in a Melbourne newspaper that it manipulated evidence relating to AFL club Essendon.

Documents released under Freedom of Information laws have seen a report today in Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun that the drug at the centre of the scandal was only listed as banned the day before the Bombers 'self-reported' to the AFL.

The Herald Sun reported the drug Thymosin Beta-4, which was administered to Essendon players that led to their AFL suspension in 2016, was only listed as a banned substance several months after the injections were stopped.

34 Essendon players along with the club's senior coach and general manager were suspended after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the players were injected several times with Thymosin Beta-4.

However, the Herald Sun has reported the drug was only deemed to be logged as prohibitive by ASADA on 4th February 2013 - months after the club had stopped injecting the players.

The newspaper reported “an ASADA official ran a check on the public site for ‘research’ at 10.34am and no flag was generated for Thymosin Beta-4.

“Another check on Thymosin Beta-4 just over two hours later at 12.59pm by an Asada staffer listed it as ‘banned in sport’.

“The status update came on the same day AFL boss Andrew Demetriou called Essendon Chairman David Evans about a secret investigation into the club’s supplements program, prompting the Bombers to ‘self-report’ to ASADA.”

ASADA has responded by stating that the timing of the logging of the drug on its former checking tool known as Check Your Substance was irrelevant.

In a statement it advised “ASADA strongly denies allegations of evidence manipulation reported in the media.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has sole responsibility for setting and determining prohibited substances. It is not possible to manipulate whether or not substances are prohibited.

“Thymosin Beta 4 was included on the 2010 prohibited list by Wada (and) has never been approved for human use. Whether a substance was on Asada’s former Check Your Substances tool has no bearing on its status as a prohibited substance on Wada’s prohibited list.

“It is impossible to list every substance that may be used for performance enhancement in such a tool, particularly those not approved for use by humans.”

The doping saga led to a number of senior Essendon figures leaving the club, with then-coach James Hird being banned by the AFL for 12 months in 2013.

The AFL also fined the club $2 million and banned the Bombers from competing in that year’s finals series.

Sports scientist Stephen Dank, who oversaw the supplements program, was in 2015 found guilty by an AFL Tribunal of trafficking in a number of illicit supplements. The tribunal banned Dank from any association with the AFL for life.

Sections of the media and fans in AFL-loving Melbourne have long disputed that Essendon were drug cheats and have often ridiculed and looked to undermine the ASADA investigation.

Related Articles

30th July 2019 - ASADA says confidentiality vital to anti-doping process

18th August 2017 - New Chief Executive named for Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority

27th May 2016 - ASADA suffers budget cuts in lead up to Rio Olympics

16th February 2016 - Australian sport reveals united anti-doping efforts leading up to Rio 2016

29th January 2016 - Essendon fined $200,000 after pleading guilty to WorkSafe charges over supplements program

13th January 2016 - AFL Players’ Association head says Essendon players victims, not perpetrators

3rd September 2015 - AFL accused of ‘deceptive conduct’ during Essendon supplements saga

26th June 2015 - AFL announces life ban for former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank

12th May 2015 - World Anti-Doping Agency to appeal AFL anti-doping tribunal’s Essendon verdict

31st January 2015 - Federal Court dismisses James Hird’s ASADA appeal

3rd December 2014 - Sports lawyers suggest ASADA lacks evidence to convict Essendon players

20th October 2014 - ASADA issues amended ‘show cause’ notices to AFL players

20th September 2014 - Essendon loses Federal Court battle with ASADA

25th August 2014 - ASADA CEO says Stephen Dank should never be able to work in sport again

23rd August 2014 - NRL players accept bans in ASADA inquiry

14th June 2014 - ASADA puts Essendon players on notice over doping allegations

2nd May 2014 - ASADA completes final report into AFL/NRL supplements scandal

20th September 2013 - ASADA to sanction Essendon AFL players and officials

22nd August 2013 - Club presidents back AFL Commission after Essendon supplements briefing

11th August 2013 - ASADA’s Essendon report may never be made public

1st July 2013 - Essendon players used as human guinea pigs


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