BOMBERS CAUGHT IN ASADA’S NOOSE

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By Jason Sulligoi – Chief Sports Writer

 

 

Essendon will need to pull off a miracle escape of Houdini proportions if it chooses to appeal Justice Middleton’s catastrophic Federal Court ruling. 

 

Middleton chose the easy option by ruling in ASADA’s favour and laying a massive cow patty at Essendon’s feet. Effectively saving his buddies in Canberra from having to fund another lengthy investigation and breaking it down further – saving the taxpayer more wasted dollars.

 

The walls are closing in on the Bombers with no room left to hide. They will most likely appeal once again, further stalling the inevitable – that the players will have to serve some sort of bans. The smartest thing to do is take stock of all the collateral damage after two years of this hell and say “ok let’s talk deals.” ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt has indicated he is open to negotiate a reduced ban, meaning the players could possibly be back within the early rounds of next year.

 

19 of the 34 players with show cause notices remain at Essendon, which could lead to the Bombers having to field a team of kids and bush ring-ins to kick off next season. Paddy Ryder has opted to leave the club to pursue a fresh start elsewhere, leaving the possibility of more players exploring that option.

 

The club has indicated that it was pressured by the AFL and the other 17 presidents into accepting the harshest punishments in league history. There were hints that the club was threatened with expulsion from the competition if it didn’t comply. James Hird told the Federal Court he accepted his 12-month ban under great duress and pressure.

 

Do the Bombers stick fat and fight the good fight and risk worse punishment down the track or do they put a fork in it and go to ASADA asking for minimal bans for the players?”

 

So the question is simple: If the club and Hird believed they did nothing wrong, and that the joint investigation was unlawful, why didn’t they go straight to the Supreme Court and lay it all on the table? Remember Doc Reid? He was heard saying they can ‘F*** off’ and took the AFL to the Supreme Court. The AFL dropped all charges against the Doc and it never reached the steps of the Supreme Court. Think about that. By accepting AFL imposed penalties in 2013, the Dons cut off their own gonads and dashed their chances of a fair trial down the track.

 

I don’t think any reasonable person thinks that the Bombers are drug cheats. Perhaps they were being innovative by looking at international sporting codes and the increased role of sports science. Unfortunately Australia is a little slow and the Bombers were caught being too daring in a backward country. Labelled an exotically experimental environment doesn’t mean a drug dungeon for systematic drug cheating.

 

At the centre of this is sports scientist Stephen Dank, compelled by nobody to speak up. Surely by now he would’ve produced the required evidence to clear not only his name, but that of the 34 accused players. The fact he dodges and weaves like a shadow boxer whilst threatening legal action against all and sundry hints at the possibility he is full of rhubarb.

 

Do the Bombers stick fat and fight the good fight and risk worse punishment down the track or do they put a fork in it and go to ASADA asking for minimal bans for the players? The chances of beating ASADA seem smaller than a grain of sand. The potential stigma of being labelled drug cheats, even if proven to be accidental and not to their knowledge is something the players will have to deal with if they opt for reduced bans.

 

For the good of the game (we’ve heard that before) perhaps that stigma isn’t so bad compared to another 2 years of ASADA hell.

 

 

 

Jason Sulligoi is an experienced sports writer and a professional drum teacher.

Contact: sports@thenorthsider.com.au 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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