IF only the Essendon players had been Russians.
The banned Bombers players would have been free to play in the 2016 season, and Jobe Watson would have kept his Brownlow.
The New York Times reporter Rebecca R. Ruiz has revealed how WADA has let 95 Russians get away with doping despite having ‘mountainous evidence of Russia’s doping scheme’.
Ruiz’s article suggests WADA simply did not have the appetite to pursue the Russian athletes.
Despite knowing tainted urine samples were destroyed, WADA did not take the next step and look for non-analytical evidence.
Despite the Russian whistleblower, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov (the former Russian anti-doping lab chief) offering to testify, WADA claims he was uncontactable.
Ruiz also reports a concern held by anti-doping officials that the International Olympic Committee may have influenced WADA’s decision not to prosecute the 95 Russians.
Yet they have been allowed by the IOC to keep their medals from the 2014 Sochi Games and WADA has decided not to prosecute them.
It’s okay then for 95 Russians who WADA knew all along had taken banned substances to get away with it scot-free.
Two different sets of rules?
Contrast the treatment of the 95 Russians with that meted out to 34 Essendon footballers.
Urine samples taken from the Essendon players proved negative.
And as they were not destroyed they were available to WADA.
The Players were charged by ASADA and were prosecuted before a tribunal comprising two judges and a barrister.
The tribunal applying Australian law found the players innocent.
ASADA could not prove its case. That should have been the end of the matter.
But no, WADA with the urging of ASADA and ASADA’s financial backing to the tune of $US100, 000 and the use of ASADA’s lawyers took the players before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Based on a case that would have been thrown out in any Australian court, CAS decided that the players were guilty.
The Russian doping occurred at the same time as ASADA and WADA pursued the Essendon footballers.
But what a contrast there is between the action of the anti-doping authorities in the two cases.
WADA knew the Russians were guilty but decided not to prosecute.
One has to ask why. Is it the fact WADA and the IOC have an inherent conflict of interest?
Is it that the Russians are too powerful? Or is it simply that it all got too hard for WADA, especially when it could find easier victims to justify it revenue?
The Essendon players never tested positive for a banned substance and they were found not guilty under Australian law.
Yet, WADA decided to go after them. And it did so with ASADA urging it on, while the Australian government allowed ASADA to give WADA use of its lawyers and $US100,000.
Quite frankly this stinks.
Russian Olympic athletes get away with doping and get to keep their medals.
The Essendon players, based on a dodgy CAS decision, missed the 2016 season
and the fairest and best footballer in 2012, Jobe Watson was stripped of his Brownlow.
Surely the Australian Parliament has to wake up and do something.
If the Senate can inquire into why the ARU dropped the Western Force from the competition,
surely it should be looking at the double standards employed by WADA.
There is no clear reason why the Senate is concerning itself with the Western Force decision.
As the ARU Chairman, Cameron Clyne, has pointed out: ‘It is a highly unusual step for a Government to single out a national sporting organisation for this type of process, particularly when there is no policy or legislation under review in relation to Australian Rugby’
However, in the Essendon matter there were and are compelling reasons why the Senate should be interested.
The players were athletes competing in a solely Australian domestic competition, but because of Australia’s UNESCO obligations, were forced to appear before CAS by WADA an international body.
WADA’s case at CAS was funded by ASADA and supported by ASADA lawyers. In effect WADA’s pursuit of the Essendon players depended on ASADA resources all of which were appropriated by the Australian Parliament.
Finally, ASADA is a statutory body established by the Australian Parliament and accountable to it.
There is clear evidence that WADA has allowed known Russian drug cheats to get away with it.
Surely, it’s time for the Australian government to investigate the treatment of the 34 Essendon footballers.
After all, the contrast could not be more stark.
WADA knows the Russians are guilty but let them off.
Yet even though the Essendon players consistently passed all drug tests and were cleared by a properly constituted tribunal, WADA went after them with Australian tax payer money.
Allan Hird is a former Essendon player and father of Essendon great James Hird. This op-ed first appeared in the Herald Sun.