ASADA thought the Gillard government was panicking and wanted immediate results from an investigation into Essendon’s supplements program, a court has heard.
Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Aurora Andruska has told the Federal Court she discussed the government’s desire for an outcome involving the AFL club with ASADA media consultant David Lording in mid-2013.
Mr Lording had said then sports minister Kate Lundy would “need something” from ASADA, having previously fronted a press conference in which it was claimed doping was widespread across sporting codes, Ms Andruska said on Tuesday.
“‘She needs something, she needs probably a deal with the AFL, but she can’t do anything without ASADA agreeing’,” Ms Andruska said Mr Lording had told her.
“‘It hit the public consciousness. Do they have anything? Have they over-egged it?’
“This was his point of view of how it was being seen,” she said.
She rejected a suggestion from Essendon’s barrister Neil Young QC that investigators had cut corners because of political pressure to speed up the process.
Ms Andruska said she decided in mid-June last year that an interim report on the status of the investigation should be provided to the AFL.
She said ASADA did not want the AFL to use the report to take its own disciplinary action against Essendon.
However, she believed the league would have had enough information to prepare its own report based on its attendance at the player interviews.
Ms Andruska also revealed Essendon was one of several clubs across a number of codes being investigated for performance enhancing drugs as far back as 2011.
ASADA began freezing blood and urine samples which were sent to Germany when a reliable test was developed, Ms Andruska said.
The tests came back inconclusive.
“But it gave us enough to believe we were on the right path and we continued with that process,” Ms Andruska said.
Sidelined Bombers coach James Hird told the court he disagreed with repeated public statements from club bosses that the Bombers requested that ASADA investigate the club.
“I do not believe the club proactively invited ASADA to investigate these matters,” he told the court.
Hird said former AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan told then Essendon chairman David Evans that the club had been guilty of doping and should self report.
“He (Mr McLachlan) said it would go better for the club if we came forward in a proactive way,” Hird said.
“It was on their advice we came forward.”
Demetriou has denied warning the club.
Hird said he did not believe Bombers players had taken banned substances, saying he trusted the word of long-serving club doctor Bruce Reid.
Hird said on Monday he did not believe Essendon had done anything wrong, but agreed to toe the club line, having been asked “not to shirk the issue”.
He said he only signed a deed of settlement with the AFL, which held him partly to blame and resulted in his 12-month suspension, after “threats and inducements” were made.
Hird and Essendon are claiming the AFL and ASADA’s joint investigation was unlawful and say the resultant show cause notices, alleging doping by 34 players, should be thrown out.
But ASADA says its investigation was legal, and to suggest otherwise would be “nonsense on stilts”.