The federal government pressured ASADA to bring its doping investigation into Essendon to a swift end with fears it might hamper Labor’s re-election chances, the AFL club alleges.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard wanted the probe to end and the government began pressuring the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) ahead of the 2013 election, Essendon claims.
The AFL and ASADA were told in a meeting with the government the “PM wants it to end”, the club says in its written submissions to the Federal Court.
“By June 2013, ASADA was coming under pressure from the relevant commonwealth minister Kate Lundy MP to reach some form of conclusion or `an outcome’ from the investigation,” the documents allege.
Essendon claims notes taken at a meeting between the anti-doping body and the Department of Sport outline Ms Lundy’s concerns over the investigation potentially harming Labor’s re-election chances.
“Min (Ms Lundy) – her colleagues at her, or accusing her of hampering chances of re-election”, the note says, according to Essendon.
The Bombers are also claiming that then-AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou was told the club was under suspicion for doping in January 2013.
Demetriou has maintained that he did not tip off Essendon to the doping crisis on February 4, 2013, because he did not know which club ASADA was looking at.
But Essendon will argue that the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) told the AFL in a meeting on January 31, 2013.
Then-deputy AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, now the chief executive, allegedly asked whether it was Essendon and was told by an ACC investigator “say no more”.
Demetriou then allegedly said “not a surprise”, according to notes from the meeting.
Both Essendon and its suspended coach James Hird are arguing a joint ASADA and AFL probe into the club’s 2012 supplements program was unlawful.
The club claims ASADA should therefore not be able to use “the fruits of this illegal process” to take action against 34 past and current Bombers players accused of doping.
But ASADA says that even if the investigation was found to be illegal, an accusation it denies, it could lawfully obtain the same information and reissue fresh accusations.
Both the Bombers players and Hird claim they were told they could face AFL sanctions if refused to co-operate with ASADA.
The players allege that they also were threatened with criminal charges if they were not truthful.
Essendon say that ASADA had “fallen into the role of a service provider” to the AFL during the joint investigation.
ASADA notes from a meeting with the AFL on June 4, 2013, allegedly show the AFL wanted the investigation completed before the 2013 finals, and was concerned about finals tickets.
“Mr McLachlan wanted the matter dealt with this season,” the ASADA notes say according to Essendon.
“The brand could not get any worse. The integrity of the 2013 season was the driver.”
The long-awaited trial will begin in the Federal Court in Melbourne on Monday.