Government sources last night expressed concern at the persistent involvement of Kate Lundy, Labor’s sports minister at the time, along with her advisers and senior departmental figures in discussions between ASADA and the AFL about how the investigation would run and the outcomes it could deliver.
It is understood a judicial or Senate inquiry will be established to examine whether ASADA failed to maintain its statutory independence from government after government ministers and sports chiefs were late year called to Canberra on the so-called blackest day in Australian sport.
Whether or not Essendon and James Hird will win their case against ASADA I don’t know. The problem to my mind is that they “self-reported” and “invited” a joint investigation. It appears from evidence presented in the court that they were coerced into doing so, but it that enough to invalidate the entire process?
On the other hand ASADA has come out of this looking like the plaything of both the AFL and the Gillard government. The Herald Sun outlines some of the AFL interventions:
What have we learnt about the AFL? It went to the prime minister’s office to expedite the process. It wanted an interim report to punish Essendon, despite being warned it could not use its contents for that purpose.
It wanted the interim report before the player interviews were completed. It wanted the interim report to paint an ugly, drug-infested environment at Essendon. It wanted to load up on the injection numbers. It wanted to omit evidence that didn’t suit its narrative from the interim report.
It wanted deals with the players in February. It wanted deals with Essendon and ASADA.
It wanted to isolate the coach because he wouldn’t take the deal.
Then there is ASADA – the former head didn’t seem to do well in court:
Andruska didn’t know about key meetings, didn’t have records about whether they were allowed to conduct joint interviews, didn’t know if the AFL cut and pasted from the interim report. She didn’t know when the AFL joined ASADA investigators in interviews, she wasn’t asked whether it could be done, she didn’t know what material had been given to the AFL in the interim report. She had delegated, she said.
“I don’t recall,’’ was the too common answer.
In this whole affair we’ve seen lots of heat but no light. So far there is no actual evidence of doping. The AFL was forced to concoct some story about “governance” and the former government was so desperate to find something, anything, that they started pressurising ASADA. What confidence can we have tat any of ASADAs evidence is uncontaminated by either the AFL or the Gillard government? Short answer? None.
How ASADA can survive this debacle I don’t know. Why ASADA should even exist is the even greater question. I can think of no reason why a publicly funded government agency should exist to police and investigate private rules of private organisations going about their private business.