AFL receives ASADA drug report on Essendon

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 01:11 03/08/2013

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The AFL has received ASADA's interim report into Essendon's controversial supplements program and will review the evidence to determine what action will be taken regarding any possible breaches of the league's anti-doping code.

The league's general counsel and general manager for legal, integrity and compliance Andrew Dillon made the announcement at a brief media conference at AFL House on Friday night.

Dillon said the league acknowledged the intense interest in the case, which has dominated AFL discussions since Essendon announced on February 5 they would be under investigation.

"Given my responsibilities for issues relating to the AFL Anti-Doping Code, competition integrity and the AFL Rules, I will oversee the AFL's response to the interim report and in due course will make the report available to the Essendon Football Club and the AFL Commission for their review," Dillon said, reading from a prepared statement.

Dillon refused to take questions.

"On behalf of the AFL, I would like to commend ASADA for the thoroughness of their investigation over the past six months," he said.

He said the report included more than 400 pages and referenced more than 13,000 supporting documents.

"Their report ... (includes) transcripts of interviews conducted to date with more than 130 witnesses." he said.

"I also want to commend the AFL's integrity unit, led by Brett Clothier, who have supported ASADA in its work.

"The AFL will continue to review the evidence collected to determine what action (if any) might be taken pursuant to the AFL Rules and/or the AFL Anti-Doping Code.

"I note that, with ASADA recently receiving additional investigative powers, the investigation will be ongoing.

"The AFL acknowledges the intense interest in this matter and we will make further statements when appropriate."

Essendon players face possible doping bans from ASADA and the league has the option of imposing its own punishments such as removing premiership points which would end the fourth-placed Bombers' hopes of premiership glory in 2013.

Removing draft picks, suspensions, fines and even stripping captain Jobe Watson of last year's Brownlow Medal are other options for the AFL.

And even if ASADA clears Essendon, the AFL could still punish the club for bringing the game into disrepute.

Essendon chief executive Ian Robson resigned after the May release of an independent investigation which had been commissioned by the club.

Former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski's report referred to a "pharmacological enhanced environment" at Essendon in 2012.

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Essendon chairman David Evans collapsed last Friday night in the club's change rooms and quit suddenly the following night in a dramatic example of the stress club officials have been facing.

Skipper Jobe Watson has admitted in a TV interview he believes he was given AOD9604, one of the key substances in the supplements saga.

Watson denies he has broken the anti-doping code.

Coach James Hird and Essendon also say there have been no doping offences.

Essendon's former fitness coach Dean Robinson took aim at Hird in a paid interview on Channel Seven earlier this week.

The club has strongly denied many of Robinson's allegations.

Essendon go into this weekend's round 19 in fourth spot on the ladder, although a possible loss of premiership points would rule them out of the finals action in September.

Essendon released a brief statement late on Friday night.

"The Essendon Football Club acknowledges the announcement by the AFL that they have received the ASADA interim report," the Bombers said.

"The club looks forward to receiving the report and responding in due course."

- AAP

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