Essendon players victims, not perpetrators: Marsh

Essendon players victims, not perpetrators: Marsh

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The AFL Players’ Association is bitterly disappointed by today’s decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and shattered for each and every player involved.

We have maintained a consistent position that these players did nothing wrong, and today’s decision does nothing to change our view.

It is important to note that the players took all reasonable steps to assure themselves that what they were being given was compliant with the WADA Code. They expressly sought confirmation that all supplements they were to be provided were in compliance with the Code, and were provided with written documentation to this effect.

The players’ legal team will now conduct a thorough review of the decision, the process which has led to it, and the general applicability of the WADA regime to our game. As is stands, we are struggling to understand how the CAS decision can be so different to that of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, Chaired by David Jones and including John Nixon and Wayne Henwood, who so emphatically rejected ASADA’s case.

With respect to the sanction, we cannot comprehend how the players have received the maximum sanction under the Code.

We are staggered to read comments attributed to the ASADA CEO today, that “there were very little grounds for the players to claim they were at no significant fault.” This is despite his previous recommendation to WADA and the AFL that it would be appropriate to reduce the sanction on the basis of no significant fault or negligence.

Whilst we have seen no evidence throughout this process that proves the players were administered supplements which were not compliant with the Code, if this is the case then they have been deceived. They are the victims, not the perpetrators. They deserve our sympathy, not our scorn.

In circumstances where they’ve been deceived, I ask this question – what more could the players have done to ensure the supplements were compliant?  We believe this is a case where the “no significant fault or negligence” provision should have been applied.

To the players – again the victims of this sorry saga – you can stand with your heads held high, notwithstanding today’s decision. Not only did you take all reasonable steps to assure yourselves that what you were being given was compliant with the WADA Code, but you cooperated fully with the AFL, ASADA, WADA and CAS at all times. You are deserving of a huge amount of credit for the way you’ve conducted yourselves at all times through this process.  Sadly you have been horribly let down throughout this process.

What do you think?

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  • […] until recently the players were generally considered the victims in this who debacle; poor guys who just wanted to play some footy being tricked into tacking illegal substances, under […]

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  • No sympathy at all. If something is seeming wrong at your place of work ir's your responsibility to stand up... not use the Nazi defence of "i was only following orders". Think of the young kids who think that the AFL players association is defending drug cheats... The AFL isn't a private boys club anymore. Stop defending each other and be accountable to the fans who think that healthy young men shouldn't be receiving 30 odd injections over a season. How is that in the spirit of the game? Why did the players lie 30 times when asked if they had taken any supplements? You guys are a discrace to young footy players who want to do the right thing Paul Marsh should be sacked for defending drug cheats and bringing the game into further disrepute.

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  • 34 of your colleagues have been robbed of their livelihood by a process put in place by your employer, the AFL. It does little to express sympathy. It's time for action. You are all exposed to this type of arbitrary justice and as such you deserve better pay, better conditions and better governance than you are receiving from the incompetent bullies running the game #AFLplayersstrike

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  • Seriously, you bunch of clowns are an embarrassment. "I don't like the outcome or the rules so I'll opt out", what a pathetic joke. You have just sided with all the drug taking cheats that have ever played sport. What a disgusting thing to do. Resign now.

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  • What a load of drivel, especially the last paragraph. -players made no effort to find out what they were being injected with - they failed to disclose the injections while being tested by ASADA, and made up excuses to explain this to CAS http://imgur.com/58gLOut http://imgur.com/a/pG4l8 - they kept the club doctor out of the loop. one player told his cardiologist he was only taking vitamin supplements whilst being prescribed heart medications http://imgur.com/xTLoC3F The full finding is here: http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Arbitral_Award_WADA_ESSENDON.pdf

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  • AFLPA, you are a laughing stock. For years your comments have been funny at best - this takes the cake and is the one that pushes the AFLPA past an unprofessional organisation to one that simply has no credibility. - Did any players ask for a list of the specific drugs they were being injected with? - Did any players go to ASADA for clarification that the drugs they were being given were OK? - Did any players attend AFL anti-doping training? Does it state that the players are responsible for what does in their body? Yes, the players were deceived - but only because they allowed themselves to be. It's sad that these players have had to put up with all this, but they could easily have avoided it.

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  • I am a parent of two young men who train and play hard. If they came home and told me their coach, their trainers and their club administered them daily injections of which they couldn't tell me what they consisted of -I would sue those responsible. Then I would kick both my son's arses for being the dumbest kids on the block. You do the crime, you do the time. Go and cry somewhere else, then get over it. Alex

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  • For a Players Association CEO to state re: WADA codes, that they have "concerns around its applicability to Australian sport" (ABC News, today), you have to question what they are thinking. Imagine if an Athletics Australia representative released such a statement. They'd be a laughing stock!

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  • The entire board of the Essendon footy club including James Hird who were at the club during the drug scandal should never be invited to the club ever again!! This is a dark day for the AFL... In saying that, I am very surprised that CAS was asked "what do they think happened" apposed to "prove it happened" !?! I dare say prime a facie was not involved in their findings

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  • These comments are disgraceful and dishonest. The players completely failed every responsibility they had to determine the correct status of the supplements. They failed to contact ASADA as they were required to do. They failed to declare the supplements to the ASADA testers as they were required to do and they failed to declare the supplements to the club doctor a they were required to do. They were fully complicit in covering up the use of banned supplements and there own actions confirm this. Paul, your comments are dishonest and factually wrong. You should apologise and resign immediately

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  • This decision is far from fair, they should have two years for systematic drug taking and then trying to cover it up. Now we need to see a large penalty given to the club as they knew full well what was going on. Why else try to challenge the legality of the investigation in court? Hopefully James Hird gets a penalty or sanction too. I wish the AFLPA would shut up, Essendon took drugs, get over it, or are they condoning this and are upset that players actually got caught?

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  • This decision is far from fair, they should have two years for systematic drug taking and then trying to cover it up. Now we need to see a large penalty given to the club as they knew full well what was going on. Why else try to challenge the legality of the investigation in court? Hopefully James Hird gets a penalty or sanction too.

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  • my son was a 12 yo at the VIS Gymnastics program and was called to a meeting with the other VIS Gymnasts to be informed of their responsibilities re performance enhancing drugs .....he was 12 ....the AFL players are 18+ .....they were pissing in bottles .....they are responsible for what goes into the bottles.............. treating them like infants wont work ....and good luck with an appeal to a court - try to find one thats interested and then try to find some players who are interested ...

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  • In complete agreement with Paul. This is the worst case scenario. However will the full details of the basis for CAS's decision be available as it flies in the face of the AFL's own tribunal's decision.

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