The Federal Court has completely and totally annihilated the claims made by James Hird, the Essendon Football Club, and the 34 Players issued Show Cause notices that national anti-doping watchdog ASADA acted unlawfully in utilising the compulsory powers of the AFL to conduct a joint investigation into the club’s alleged use of prohibited supplements during the 2012 AFL Season.
Federal Court Justice John Middleton ruled that ASADA had acted lawfully in its investigations, and that by entering into contractual arrangements with the AFL, both Essendon and the 34 players knowingly waived certain rights, including the right to protect against self-incrimination. ASADA’s utilisation of the AFL’s compulsory powers was within the legal limits of their operations.
The ruling was handed down in just under 30 minutes in front of a packed court room, which included an extraordinarily surprising appearance by Stephen Dank – the man accused of administering banned supplements to players, without the knowledge of players or football club administration.
The Essendon camp – including recently re-instated Senior Coach James Hird – appeared shellshocked after the findings had been handed down. The court also awarded legal costs to ASADA.
The ruling means the Show Cause notices issued by ASADA stand and are valid. The next step in the process will be for ASADA to reinstate a deadline for players to respond.
Speaking as a devout Essendon fan, I can’t believe I’m having to face the unthinkable. So, thanks for 28 years of wonderful years of football, Essendon. I never thought I’d have to face a world where one of the things I love the most in this life is callously ripped away from me, but apparently that’s a door I’ve got to ready myself to walk through.
Sigh. This fucking blows.
Photo: Michael Dodge via Getty Images.