The AFL Players’ Association says if the Essendon players involved in the controversial supplements program have taken banned substances it is because they had been deceived.
AFLPA acting chief executive Ian Prendergast has told Channel Nine the 34 past and present Essendon players issued show-cause notices earlier this month are baffled by ASADA’s actions.
The players claim they have fully co-operated with ASADA during the anti-doping body’s investigations.
“That’s why I think they’re finding it difficult to understand why they’ve now been issued with show-cause notices, particularly when we haven’t been provided with any further evidence that may have been gathered since the interim report was released and they were told no cases would be brought at that point,” Prendergast said.
Prendergast says the players have taken all reasonable steps.
“That goes to the damning situation these players find themselves in, despite taking all reasonable steps that you could expect of a group of young men in a team-sport environment to satisfy themselves that the program was completely on board in terms of being compliant with the WADA code, but also that the substances had been ticked off by the club doctor,” Prendergast said.
“If they have been exposed to health risks or the risk of having been administered a banned substance it has been through deception, which is completely unacceptable.”
Prendergast said the AFLPA had taken calls from concerned parents who had expressed anxiety about the long-term health of their sons.
“We still don’t know what these players have been administered,” he said.
“We can’t say that with any certainty and that has an impact on the people around players, including their parents.
“We need to remember the positive steps players took prior to the program being rolled out.
“That included having a series of meetings with the club to satisfy themselves that what they were taking was compliant with the WADA code.
“Consent forms expressly stated they were compliant with WADA and had been ticked off by the club doctor.
“You can understand why the players would feel like they have been deceived if those protocols weren’t adhered to.”
ASADA has extended the 34 players’ response time to the show-cause notices, issued earlier this month, to July 11.
The Federal Court will hear Essendon’s arguments on the legality of the ASADA investigation beginning on June 27.