ASADA v Essendon — what you need to know

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 14 Desember 2014 | 23.08

ASADA has failed in it's legal bid to have two witnesses compelled to give evidence in the Essendon anti-doping tribunal.

ASADA's case against Essendon will begin on Monday. Source: News Limited

Before the most contentious tribunal case in VFL/AFL history starts on Monday — behind closed doors — Grant Baker tells you everything you need to know about the case and the key players.


Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority v 34 current and former Essendon players, and Stephen Dank


The hearing begins at 10am today. The tribunal will sit again on Thursday and Friday and then resume on January 12 after the Christmas break. In all, the tribunal is expected to sit for about three weeks.


County Court, William Street


Players face the allegation they used the banned peptide Thymosin-beta 4.


In February 2013, Essendon "self-reported" its concerns about possibly having used banned supplements. Many revelations followed about the 2012 supplements program and the Essendon-commissioned Switkowski Report found governance failings. The AFL found Essendon had brought the game into disrepute, and punished the club and its senior coach James Hird. By June this year, ASADA decided on show cause notices only to have the process blocked by Federal Court action from the Bombers and Hird. That failed (Hird's appeal notwithstanding), and ASADA reissued the notices. The AFL duly charged them with anti-doping offences and convened these hearings.

Essendon coach James Hird was in court in August. Picture: Norm Oorloff Source: News Corp Australia


David Jones QC (chair, retired judge)

John Nixon (retired judge)

Wayne Henwood (former Sydney player, barrister)


Lawyers. A whole, expensive, bunch of them. Lawyers for ASADA will prosecute; lawyers for the players (two sets of them) will defend while lawyers for the AFL will, well, be there. The three witnesses ASADA may call are high-profile sports physician Peter Fricker — who knows Dank; University of Sydney endocrinologist David Handelsman and a former business associate of biochemist Shane Charter called Sergio Del Vechio. It's unlikely they will be called before January.

Shane Charter, who ASADA wanted to appear as a witness, won't be at the anti-doping tribunal. Picture: Luke Marsden. Source: News Corp Australia


Shane Charter and compounding chemist Nima Alavi. The Supreme Court ruled on Friday they could not be compelled to attend. Dank, too, is unlikely to show up or be represented. The players are considered unlikely to attend, but can watch via video-link at another location should they choose.


Chairman Jones rejected a bid by the Herald Sun and other media outlets for an open hearing. The application was supported, with qualifications, by the AFL. Jones argued the rights of the players to privacy outweighed the public interest.

All media will be banned from the AFL ASADA hearings following the request of 32 former and current Essendon players involved in the doping scandal


ASADA'S case was simply put by lawyer Dan Star in the Supreme Court matter last week: Charter sourced the banned peptide Thymosin beta-4; Alavi prepared it for injection and gave it to Dank; Dank injected it into the 34 players.


ASADA has been steadfast that it can run its case without direct testimony from its star witnesses, but their absence may cause the tribunal to put a lesser weighting on the previous, unsworn statements they gave to ASADA and on which the anti-doping body now relies. The players could argue that some of their evidence should not be admitted, because they do not have the opportunity to scrutinise it on cross examination.

Pharmacist Nima Alavi won't be giving evidence. Source: News Corp Australia


For a guilty verdict, the tribunal must find to its "comfortable satisfaction" that the offence was committed. It is commonly accepted the level of proof required is higher than balance of probability but lower than beyond reasonable doubt.


For the players, bans could range from effectively three months to two years. For ASADA, failure to successfully prosecute will almost certainly bring on a Federal inquiry. Dank has no future in the AFL regardless of the outcome, but an AFL life ban would be honoured by all sports.

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