ASADA denies AFL vendetta

ASADA has denied a vendetta against Essendon, saying a lack of evidence meant it did not pursue an appeal in another AFL anti-doping case.

The Australian anti-doping agency has defended the decision not to challenge a verdict that effectively cleared former Gold Coast player Nathan Bock.

But Melbourne lawyer Steven Amendola, who has represented former Essendon coach James Hird during the club’s long-running supplements debacle, told the Herald Sun the decision was “bare-faced hypocrisy”.

This latest controversy centres on two AFL anti-doping tribunal verdicts involving former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank.

“We note that the tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that Mr Dank had trafficked (the banned substance) CJC-1295 to the Gold Coast in 2010,” ASADA said in a statement.

“The tribunal was comfortably satisfied that Mr Dank had attempted to traffick CJC-1295, however the Tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that the substance believed to be CJC-1295 was in fact the prohibited substance CJC-1295.”

The decision not to challenge the trafficking verdict meant no action against Bock, who has since retired from the AFL.

The suspicion, not proved, was that Bock took CJC-1295 to help him recover from an Achilles injury.

The AFL anti-doping tribunal also ruled in favour of 34 current and past Essendon players.

But WADA successfully appealed to CAS and the players, half of whom are banned from playing in the AFL this season, are now making a last-ditch appeal to a Swiss court.

ASADA has issued a statement in response to the Herald-Sun article.

“Allegations need to be corroborated with other evidence to be proven,” it said.

“In the matter of the Gold Coast Suns, despite thorough investigations, ASADA considered there was insufficient supporting evidence.

“In comparison, other cases pursued as a result of Operation Cobia have been supported by an accumulation of convincing evidence including scientific analyses, corroborating statements from multiple parties and text messages discussing prohibited substances.

“ASADA has no vendetta against any club or person and history has shown we are not afraid of taking on the tough cases.

“But to take on the hard cases we require sufficient evidence.”

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