ASADA chief 'disappointed' with Essendon verdict
A "DISAPPOINTED" ASADA chief Ben McDevitt is tomorrow expected to reveal if the organisation will appeal the AFL anti-doping tribunal's decision to clear 34 Essendon Bombers players.
The tribunal today handed down a unanimous decision clearing the players of breaching the AFL anti-doping code. A statement from tribunal chief David Jones said they had not been "comfortably satisfied that any player was administered" with banned substance Thymosin Beta-4.
"The tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the AFL anti-doping code," he said.
Mr McDevitt, who will address the media in Canberra this morning, continued to take aim at the Bomber's supplements program.
"What happened at Essendon in 2012 was, in my opinion, absolutely and utterly disgraceful," he said.
"It was not a supplements program but an injection regime and the players and the fans were so poorly let down by the club.
"While I am obviously disappointed that the charges in this instance have not been proven to the comfortable satisfaction of the tribunal, I am pleased that the tribunal was able to finally hear these matters."
The tribunal said it is yet to hand down its decision on former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank but will do so at a later date.
While the original decision was released in private it was leaked within minutes before official statements were released.
The finding will see the 34 players available to play in the AFL's first round this weekend.
The players' lawyer David Grace said he was pleased with the result.
"We mounted a very strong defence to the case and the result is here today," he said.
"I cannot say whether there's going to be any further legal action."
The investigation had been going on since February 2013 regarding offences ASADA said occurred in the 2012 season.
1:20 PM Essendon players found not guilty in supplements scandal
The AFL anti-doping tribunal has found 34 current and former Essendon players not guilty of using a banned supplement during the 2012 football season.
In a statement released today, the Tribunal said it was "comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4".
"The Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the AFL Anti-Doping Code," it read.
"The Tribunal's decision in relation to the violations under the Code alleged against a former Essendon support person will be handed down at a later date, together with reasons for that decision.
"The Tribunal's decision and reasons have been provided to the parties in accordance with the function performed by the Tribunal. That function does not included the provision of the decision and reasons to other persons. Any publication of the Tribunal's decision and reasons is a matter for the parties."
A short time later, the Club's CEO Xavier Campbell tweeted, "I am so proud of our players".
I am so proud of our players— Xavier Campbell (@XCampbell79) March 31, 2015
Essendon had been under investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority since February 2013 over the legality of its supplements program during the 2012 season.
More than two years after the probe first began, tribunal chairman David Jones informed the players and their legal teams of the verdict this afternoon.
The tribunal determined there was insufficient evidence to uphold ASADA's belief that 34 past and present Bombers were injected with the banned drug Thymosin beta-4 during 2012.
ASADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency have 21 days to appeal the decision.
The AFL had previously fined Essendon $2 million for bringing the game into disrepute, banned head coach James Hird for 12 months and barred the club from taking part in the 2013 finals series despite it finishing in the top eight.
All current players were also provisionally suspended from the NAB Challenge pre-season competition this year.