The Australian Football League Anti-Doping Tribunal has cleared 34 past and present players of any wrongdoing in relation to a supplements program at the Essendon Football Club. The tribunal, consisting of two former Victorian County Court Judges and a former player (now barrister) have withheld the reasons for the decision until the appeal period ends.
The players were facing a ban of up to two years if the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) had presented sufficient evidence to achieve the “comfortable satisfaction” burden of proof required to constitute a doping case. The Tribunal was comfortably satisfied that the substance Thymosin Beta-4 was at the relevant time a prohibited substance under the Code, but the Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4.
In response to a media question about the likelihood of an appeal against the Tribunal’s decision, ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt stated ”My sense is that we’re still only part way through the journey… No. I really haven’t formed a position yet. I need to sit down with our legal advisers, the government solicitor, with the people who presented our case, and talk it through with them.”
The deadline for lodging an appeal to the findings of the tribunal is 21 April 2015. Depending on the circumstances, the decision could be appealed all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The tribunal’s statement can be read here by clicking here.