ASADA boss Ben McDevitt has fired a shot at the Essendon players who have lost their last chance at having doping bans overturned.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal decision, released on Tuesday night (AEDT), upholds the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) finding earlier this year that the 34 current and past Bombers had used the banned substance Thymosin Beta 4.
The Swiss tribunal was the last legal option for the banned players in the anti-doping process.
The finding leaves the way open for the AFL Commission to rule on Jobe Watson’s 2012 Brownlow Medal, with widespread speculation he will be stripped of the honour.
ASADA noted that the players had agreed to the terms of the CAS arbitration hearing.
“You cannot agree to the rules and then expect them to change if you don’t like the outcome,” McDevitt said on Wednesday in a statement.
“Furthermore, CAS exists for the very reason of ensuring sports matters are heard fairly and independently, so it is essential that they be able to review all evidence and are not limited by the findings of sports tribunals.
“This ensures that anti-doping rules are applied consistently between cases, which is crucial in the global fight against doping.”
McDevitt added he was pleased the anti-doping process related to the long-running Essendon supplements debacle was over.
“I am proud of ASADA’s persistence in pursuing this case until the truth was revealed,” he said.
But the matter is far from over for the AFL Commission, which must rule on Watson’s Brownlow.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan made it clear back in May it was a decision they were dreading.
Watson is one of the banned players and he won his Brownlow in the year when the supplements program was running at Essendon.
The league had postponed the commission hearing until the appeal finding.
“Everyone involved, if they had to make that decision, would dread it,” McLachlan told AFL360.
“I think the people charged with the responsibility of making that decision will not have made a more difficult decision – not just in their time in football, but almost in their lives,” he said.
“I don’t want to over-dramatise it, but that will be as hard a decision as anyone on the commission has had to make – I’m sure of it.”
Watson will be invited to speak to the commission.
Essendon officials have said they think Watson should keep the Brownlow.
Allan Hird, the father of former Essendon coach James Hird, also wrote to the AFL earlier this year in support of Watson keeping the medal.
Meanwhile, Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner released a statement on Tuesday night after the Swiss verdict was handed down.
“We maintain our view that the decision and penalty handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport was manifestly unfair on our players,” Tanner said.