AFL club fail to halt doping probe, players face bans

Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:04am EDT
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Rules club Essendon have failed in their bid to halt a lengthy investigation by the country's national anti-doping agency into drugs violations, leaving more than a dozen of their players facing bans from the game.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) charged 34 current and former Essendon players with drugs violations in June following a 16-month investigation into the club's supplements programme in 2012.

Essendon, who compete in the top-flight Australian Football League, went to the Federal Court in Melbourne seeking an injunction to halt the investigation to allow a court case brought by the club against ASADA to be held last month.

The Melbourne-based club and coach James Hird, who recently completed a 12-month ban issued by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute, claimed ASADA's joint investigation with the AFL was illegal and sought to have the probe quashed.

Federal Court Justice John Middleton, however, dismissed the action, allowing ASADA to continue their prosecution of the 34 players.

Twenty Essendon players and another 14 no longer at the club will have to respond to the charges -- known as 'show cause' notices -- or face sanctions.

"In my view ASADA complied with the rule of law in establishing and conducting, in the manner and for the purposes it did, the investigation," Middleton said in his judgement on Friday.

ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt welcomed the decision.

"These players still have a case to answer under the World Anti-Doping Code and Australia's National Anti-Doping scheme," he said in a statement.   Continued...