The Australian Anti-Sports Doping Agency (ASADA) will not appeal the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s decision to clear 34 past and present Essendon players following the club’s 2011 supplements program.
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ASADA also announced it would not appeal the findings in the case of former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank.
The anti-doping watchdog had until Tuesday to appeal the verdict, but announced on Monday it would not go through with an appeal.
However, ASADA will now send the case to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who will decide whether to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“As with all other decisions I have made in these matters this decision has largely been informed by comprehensive legal advice,” ASADA boss Ben McDevitt said in a statement.
“I am conscious that ASADA does not have a direct right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the only appeal avenue open to ASADA at this time is to the AFL Anti-Doping Appeals Tribunal.
“I am also aware that appealing any of these decisions within the AFL framework would ultimately serve only to delay consideration of these matters by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
“I have therefore arranged to provide the entire case file encompassing all 35 matters to WADA for its independent review. This is in accordance with global anti-doping protocols. WADA will then be able to make an independent decision as to whether to exercise its appeal options.
“ASADA will support any WADA initiated appeal in relation to these matters.”
ASADA has come under fire in the wake of the verdict which came two years after the anti-doping agency launched a joint investigation with the AFL into the club’s supplements program.
Following the inquest, Essendon was banned from playing in the finals in 2013 and coach James Hird was suspended for 12 months.
The Bombers were also hit with a record fine.
However, without any positive drug tests or key witnesses, the AFL anti-doping tribunal said it was not satisfied players had taken the banned substance Thymosin-Beta 4.
WADA now has 21 days from Tuesday to decide if it will lodge an appeal.