James and Tania Hird leave the Federal Court in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart
James and Tania Hird leave the Federal Court in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart

New twist in Essendon drugs saga

THE drug administered to Essendon players that led to their suspension in 2016 was not listed as a banned substance until several months after the injections were stopped, the Herald Sun reports.

A total of 34 Bombers players were banned for 12 months after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the players were injected several times with the banned substance Thymosin Beta-4.

But the drug was only deemed to be logged as prohibitive on February 4, 2013 - months after the club had stopped injecting the players.

The Herald Sun exclusively obtained the information under Freedom of Information laws.

"An ASADA official ran a check on the public site for 'research' at 10.34am and no flag was generated for Thymosin Beta-4," the newspaper report said.

"Another check on Thymosin Beta-4 just over two hours later at 12.59pm by an ASADA staffer listed it as 'banned in sport'.

RELATED: The Herald Sun's exclusive report

"The status update came on the same day AFL boss Andrew Demetriou called Essendon chairman David Evans about a secret investigation into the club's supplements program, prompting the Bombers to 'self-report' to ASADA."

Scientist Bob O'Dea said: "The evidence of a stitch-up is compelling."

Jobe Watson was stripped of the 2012 Brownlow Medal. Picture: David Crosling/AAP
Jobe Watson was stripped of the 2012 Brownlow Medal. Picture: David Crosling/AAP

The players' defence team did not know the timing of the logging of the ban when they were found guilty in January 2016, the publication added.

Questions have also been raised about the update's timing, with suggestions it was an attempt by some staff to shore up evidence after the fact.

The revelations have drawn a mixed reaction.

Former Adelaide Crows coach Graham Cornes, who was a vocal supporter of the Essendon players during the saga, tweeted: "The Essendon 34 must be vindicated, Jobe's Brownlow restored and justice maintained. Investigate this now."

 

Former ASADA chief excecutive Richard Ings, who led the organisation from 2005-10, said the findings didn't change anything because Thymosin Beta-4 was on the World Anti-Doping Authority's banned list in 2010.

Ings said none of the new evidence impacted the decision reached by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"WADA determine what's banned. Not ASADA," he tweeted. "And no one argues successfully that TB-4 is not banned. EFC34 were well represented at both hearing. They lost."

News Corp Australia


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