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The path ahead for the 34 Essendon players

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By Kaye Griffiths, Senior Associate, MST Lawyers

The recent Federal Court case involving ASADA, the Essendon Football Club and James Hird has received saturation coverage by the media.  The media coverage has been confusing and often plainly wrong.

So let’s get it correct!

ASADA is an agency of the Commonwealth and as such is subject to Commonwealth administrative law.  Administrative law covers the regulation of such Commonwealth agencies to ensure that procedural fairness is allowed and due process followed.  Any Commonwealth body is subject to the same standards as ASADA and their conduct can be challenged if they behave unfairly, in a biased manner or without following due process.

The application made by Essendon and James Hird challenged the legality of the AFL-ASADA join investigation process alleging that ASADA exceeded its powers and therefore the investigation is null and void.  Justice Middleton rejected the application.

Whilst Essendon has indicated it will not appeal the decision, James Hird has appealed and his case remains on foot.

The 34 players have now received amended show cause notices and have chosen not to respond to them.

Their cases now go before Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel, which if it is satisfied there is a likely breach of the anti-doping rules, will list a finding of a doping violation on the Register of Findings.

If this occurs, under arrangements between the AFL and ASADA, the AFL must then issue an “infraction notice”, which, in turn invokes the jurisdiction of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, which will determine the fate of the players.