Australian football rocked by dozens of drugs charges

Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:24pm EDT
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's national anti-doping agency has charged 34 current and former Australian Rules football players with drugs violations, rocking the country's richest and most well-attended sport.

The charges are the culmination of a 16-month investigation into the administration of dubious supplements in 2012 at the Melbourne-based Essendon Bombers, one of the Australian Football League's oldest and most powerful teams.

"The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has put formal allegations of possible anti-doping rule violations to 34 current and former players from the Australian Football League (AFL)," the agency said in a statement on Friday.

"Based on the advice of our legal counsel and a review of the evidence ... I have reached the conclusion that these players have a case to answer under the World Anti-Doping Code," ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt said.

The AFL disqualified Essendon from the competition's playoffs last year, banned the club's head coach James Hird for 12 months and slapped the team with a record fine for bringing the game into disrepute.

The punishments followed an independent probe commissioned by the club which found governance failures had contributed to a "disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment".

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