The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has resumed the case against 34 current and former players at Australian Rules club Essendon. ASADA issued fresh show-cause notices to 34 former and present Essendon players with formal allegations of the use of Thymosin Beta 4, a banned substance in 2012.
The amended notices are complete with 350 pages of evidence tailored for each player and include evidence in the form of text messages, emails, invoices, and testimony from a range of witnesses. The amended notices fully detail claim by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority that players were injected with Thymosin beta-4, which is banned for use by all professional athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency, as part of Essendon’s experimental supplements program in 2012.
A statement issued by ASADA reads the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) today issued amended 'show cause' notices to 34 former and current Essendon football players for the use of a prohibited substance, Thymosin Beta 4, during the 2012 season. The ASADA statement reads the resumption of action against the players follows the Federal Court's dismissal of the applications by the Essendon Football Club and James Hird on 19 September 2014 and added notwithstanding James Hird's appeal of the Federal Court decision, ASADA has agreed to a formal request by the legal team for the bulk of the players to expedite the 'show cause' notice process.
The ASADA investigation also found wrongdoing in the top-flight National Rugby League, with 17 players getting accused of making the use of banned substances when playing at the Sydney-based Cronulla Sharks in 2011. In June this year, the 34 players had already been issued with show-cause notices but the cases were put on hold pending a legal challenge to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority probe in the Federal Court precipitated by an injunction served by the Australian Football League (AFL) club. Essendon coach James Hird has also undertaken legal action. Hird recently completed a 12-month ban issued by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute.
In August this year, 12 current and former Cronulla players accepted a ban of one year each from ASADA (controversially backdated to November 2013) but players from Essendon already rejected an offer to cut a deal with ASADA and are now unlikely to receive similar lenience.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority remarked it would be would be sympathetic to requests for extensions though players have 10 days to respond to the notice. In a statement, ASADA said this process due to the complexity and volume of material may take longer than normal for appropriate deliberation. It added the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel’s decision on each of the matters will then be conveyed in writing to the CEO of ASADA, who will then notify the Australian Football League and the statement said by providing the detailed ‘show cause’ notices, it is ASADA’s intention to offer players every opportunity to respond to the allegations against them.
ASADA will present its evidence to the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel that will meet in early November.