Essendon downplay WADA test claims

Essendon have dismissed the latest development in the AFL club’s long-running supplements saga as insignificant, accusing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of not understanding test results.

WADA is pressing ahead with an appeal against 34 current and former Essendon players over the club’s controversial 2012 supplements program.

Australian media outlets reported that the frozen urine samples from two of those players showed abnormally high levels of the banned substance thymosin beta 4 (TB4) when tested in Germany.

WADA commissioned the tests and will reportedly point to the results as proof that the players were administered with doses of TB4 by sports scientist Stephen Dank.

The AFL anti-doping tribunal ruled in favour of the players earlier this year, but WADA is appealing that verdict.

“It is clear that WADA does not know what the results mean,” Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell said on the club website.

“There were no supporting documents or evidence in the WADA brief and there are real doubts as to the significance of these claims.”

Campbell also blasted the media leaking of the latest twist in the supplements case.

“It’s disappointing that this process continues to be plagued by leaks,” he said.

“(That is) regardless of how significant, or, what we think in this case, insignificant, the leaks may be.

“It’s been a frustration for the players and I think entirely unfair on the players.

“The players have provided so much support for the process and respected the process right throughout.”

Campbell said news of the test results did not change anything for the Bombers, but it had frustrated the players who were awaiting their fate at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“It doesn’t alter our view (on) the players’ position or the strength of the players’ position,” he said.

“We maintain confidence in the players’ position.

“They’re frustrated, absolutely, and … for some of them, to find out elements through the media … is disappointing.

Former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings said on Twitter it was “very, very interesting” that only two samples reportedly had shown elevated TB4 levels.

“This is not a positive test. Just additional circumstantial evidence of possible TB4,” he added.

Campbell said Essendon were yet to receive final word on when the appeal in Sydney would go ahead, but he expected mid-November.

He also doubts the appeal will go as long as the AFL anti-tribunal hearing, which lasted for more than three months.

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