Former WADA president John Fahey has criticised Essendon for prolonging the two-year supplements scandal and also called for a review of “cumbersome” ASADA regulations.
The AFL’s independent anti-doping tribunal on Tuesday found 34 past and present Essendon players involved in the protracted saga not guilty of taking a banned substance, saying there was insufficent evidence to prove ASADA’s case.
Fahey said he was pleased there had finally been a decision, but he regreted the unsuccessful court action by Essendon and then coach James Hird appealing when the Federal Court ruled against them.
“Let’s face it, there’d been months and months and months of inaction,” Fahey told ABC Radio.
“Court action was taken by Essendon and their coach to prevent the inquiry actually taking place. That was the delay.
“The shame of it is they (Essendon) went to so much trouble – millions of dollars – to prevent an inquiry being held.”
Fahey called for a review of ASADA’s regulations, which he said contributed to the lengthy process.
“There’s a very cumbersome process in place in this country,” he said.
“I’ve not seen it take place anywhere else, where we see so many preliminary steps are taken before we actually get to an inquiry.
“That to me is unsatisfactory.”
Fahey added his voice to a widespread belief that Essendon should not hold up the finding as absolution.
He suggested they re-read former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski’s damning 2013 internal report on its 2012 injections program.
“It doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen – of course it happened,” Fahey said.
He added that the players should have learnt a “valuable lesson”.
“They should question everything that is put into their system because they are responsible for that going forward,” he said.
“I think it’s a lesson to all sports men and women in this country, to be extraordinarily careful.”