The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commends today’s decision published by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that upholds the Agency’s appeal to sanction 34 current and former players (Players) of the Australian Football League’s (AFL) Essendon Football Club (Essendon) who played for Essendon during the 2012 season.
In February 2013, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) released the Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report alleging widespread doping in Australian sport. As a result, in June 2014, ASADA initiated action against the Players, via the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal (AFL Tribunal), alleging doping through the use of the banned peptide Thymosin Beta-4. In March 2015, the AFL Tribunal ruled that the Players were to be cleared of any wrongdoing. The AFL Tribunal stated that it was not comfortably satisfied that any of the Players had committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation for use of Thymosin Beta-4 during the 2012 season. In May 2015, WADA launched its independent right of appeal to CAS.
“While today’s decision represents the right result for the anti-doping community, it most importantly represents justice for clean athletes in Australia and worldwide,” said WADA Director General, David Howman. “This case shows that analytical and non-analytical evidence gathered through an investigation can be successfully presented to an independent panel.”
“WADA is pleased that the CAS panel upheld the standards of proof set out under the World Anti-Doping Code,” said Howman. “If the AFL Tribunal’s decision had prevailed, it would have set a damaging precedent for future non-analytical anti-doping cases; and, therefore, been detrimental for anti-doping efforts worldwide” he continued.
As stated in CAS’s decision, “The 34 players concerned are sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 31 March 2015, with credit given for any individual period of ineligibility already served. Thus, most of the suspensions will come to an end in November 2016.”