The Court of Arbitration for Sport will have a better idea by the end of this week when the result of WADA’S anti-doping appeal against Essendon will be announced, with no guarantee it will be known before Christmas as the Bombers would like.
The hearing started in Sydney on Monday, with the WADA team including Richard Young, who was also involved in the case against disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Asked outside the venue if he was confident of getting a result, Young told broadcasters “Yes.”
“I’m not going to talk about the case except for the arbitrators, so thank you for your interest, though.”
CAS secretary general Mr Matthieu Reeb didn’t want to commit to when the result of the hearing would be announced.
“I would not like to engage myself to any deadline at the moment, but we’ll probably know more at the end of this week,” Reeb told broadcasters.
The world body is challenging the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s March verdict that cleared the 34 current and past Essendon players.
The three-man CAS panel’s verdict is final, meaning it is the last stage of the anti-doping process that started in February two years ago.
The hearing is closed and even Essendon cannot have a representative in the room.
The saga relates to the club’s controversial 2011-12 supplements regime.
“While there are no guarantees, all indications from CAS and players’ lawyers suggest that it is likely a decision will be handed down prior to Christmas,” Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said.
“Our players have been incredibly resilient throughout this process and we ask that our members and fans continue to support them in this final stage of the process.”
Former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings was sceptical last week about CAS handing down a verdict by Christmas.
He noted that unless there was a time imperative – such as a selection appeal ahead of an Olympics – the verdict could take about three months.
If the players lose the appeal, their actual punishment could well be token.
They have already served provisional suspensions before the original AFL anti-doping tribunal hearing and those would count towards any sanction.
Also, Cronulla players had their suspensions backdated last year, meaning most of them only missed a small number of games.
The Essendon players remain adamant they did nothing wrong.