Essendon players who have recently received hundreds of pages of evidence from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) are likely to accelerate the anti-doping cases against them and front an AFL tribunal by this December.
The decision of ASADA to supply with so much information to the lawyers of the 34 past and present Essendon players is an admission from ASADA chief Ben McDevitt that the anti-doping authority should have offered evidence in the first place when show-cause letters were issued in June this year.
A majority of the 34 players decided not to respond to the show-cause notices sent by ASADA in June. Industry insiders believe that an AFL anti-doping tribunal would convene by as soon as late November or December. ASADA boss is likely to provide deals to players who want to further hasten their fates in the coming weeks but no player (except Western Bulldog Stewart Crameri and Brent Prismall, now playing in the VFL, who are seeking independent advice) are yet moving on negotiations. It is suggested by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority that any deal would involve at least a short suspension.
The comprehensive sets of evidence provided by ASADA against every player included testimony from Shane Charter, a convicted biochemist, and compounding pharmacist Nima Alavi in context of the banned Thymosin beta-4 that was sourced cheaply in Shanghai.
Last Friday, the AFL said it completely expected Essendon either way to boast enough numbers to field a team at the start of 2015. An estimated 18 out of the 34 past and present players who have received show-cause notices remain on the club's list. A 2015 flag favourite Port Adelaide may get adversely affected as it recruited Angus Monfries two years ago and more recently disenchanted Paddy Ryder. The players, under the expected fast-tracking, may bypass the Anti-doping rules violation (ADRV) panel and would then face infraction notices from the AFL. Last Friday, the AFL Players Association's executive Ian Prendergast likened those players to construction workers exposed to asbestos who deserved compensation and not strict anti-doping bans.
The 34 past and present Essendon players who are under scrutiny would be subjected to medical tests for years to come irrespective of the final verdict as a result of the 2012 drugs program. In other words, the Essendon players will continue to remain victims of a program sanctioned by their football department.
The fate of those players would then be decided by the AFL anti-doping tribunal and World Anti-Doping Authority could appeal the findings if they escape penalty. However, a speedy resolution request by Essendon players may get a jolt from the move of coach James Hird in appealing against the Federal Court findings. ASADA may be forced to reissue the evidence in case the appeal of Hird is successful and his request to make the evidence against players be made inadmissible is accepted. Hird may appeal to the High Court in case his latest legal action fails but the odds of the players coming forward and having their cases heard by the AFL anti-doping tribunal before December end are more.