Allan Hird: Why did WADA go after Essendon players but let Russian drug cheats go unpunished?

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.

According to Ruiz WADA has conclusive evidence that proves the Russian athletes were part of a doping system.

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.

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43 Responses to Allan Hird: Why did WADA go after Essendon players but let Russian drug cheats go unpunished?

  1. notaluvvie

    It’s all about economics, the Russians either simply paid better and/or the intelligence service had some really good photos.

  2. zyconoclast

    Its the RUSSSSIANS.

    No, but seriously…

    They always go for the soft target.
    Note that the Russian government must have defended their people with maximum.

    The Australian Government did the opposite. Sacrificed the players on the alter of internationalism. If they had fought it there would be no more positions for ex Australian politicians on any international sporting board. They look after their own.

  3. JB5

    Who cares? When it comes down to it, “sport” is utterly inconsequential, excepting its use to distract the sheeple, a la bread and circuses.

  4. jupes

    Surely, it’s time for the Australian government to investigate the treatment of the 34 Essendon footballers.

    No chance Allan. The Australian government is culpable. They are far more likely to try and cover it up.

    The Labor government started this back on the “blackest day in Australian sport”, then disgracefully the Libs continued backing ASADA.

    The whole affair was concocted to distract from Gillard’s incompetence.

  5. jupes

    Who cares? When it comes down to it, “sport” is utterly inconsequential, excepting its use to distract the sheeple, a la bread and circuses.

    Fuck off dickhead.

  6. Lutz

    This is always the outcome if you accede to any UN agency.

  7. True Aussie

    Fuck off dickhead.

    You just proved his point. You froth at the mouth when someone questions your beloved sport but sit idly by while our country is invaded by muslims, our economy is destroyed, or jobs offshored, our traditions whittled away, our wealth frittered to nothing.

  8. Muddy

    They always go for the soft target.

    Correct. Bullies don’t pick on someone their size or with their strength (or greater). Look at any of the ‘popular’ issues of the last several decades. There is a reason why modern delusifems do not criticise Islam, for example.

    While I have been turned off the major professional sports due to their politicisation and other issues, it is concerning that the process in this case seems to have been misapplied, and one does wonder about the degree of political interference.

  9. stackja

    WADA just seeming to be doing something about ‘drug cheats’.

  10. Suburban Boy

    Having WADA in charge of investigating allegations of doping in sport is like having the Mafia run the office of the DPP.

  11. Arky

    True Aussie
    #2498941, posted on September 16, 2017 at 9:08 am
    Fuck off dickhead.

    You just proved his point. You froth at the mouth when someone questions your beloved sport but sit idly by while our country is invaded by muslims, our economy is destroyed, or jobs offshored, our traditions whittled away, our wealth frittered to nothing.

    ..
    Youse are both right and both wrong.
    Sport, being an natural part of male culture is important.
    That is why it is now used as a tool to hammer home the cultural Marxist theology to young men.
    And therefore is now to be regarded as just another boring thing to be avoided, particularly at the elite level.
    I loved rugby as a youngster.
    Couldn’t give a fuck about it anymore.
    Professionalism was a trap.
    Once it became the primary income for players it changed.
    Precisely how it changed I’m not sure.
    But it just isn’t important to me anymore.
    It’s values sent mine on any way shape or form.

  12. Arky

    Real men should completely abandon the now captured traditional codes.
    Take up something different
    Jousting looks fun.
    Anyone lend me a horse?

  13. Muddy

    Extreme Knitting, Arky. It’s the way of the future.

  14. Muddy

    You make a decent point about the feminisation (or emasculation) of sport. In the contact sports, I tend to believe that women have not been widely accepted until recently because no-one wants to see a young woman with a broken jaw or smashed face. We’re conditioned to seeing, and accepting, men being maimed, because males have always been disposable. But we want to protect women from the same ‘privileges.’

  15. Robbo

    No doubt this is a very important issue. Meanwhile in London a raving nutcase set off a bomb on an underground train but never mind that. The Essendon drugs drama has our full attention.

  16. Arky

    Sport isn’t sport anyway.
    Once you have been playing a game for a hundred years the original spirit is long gone.
    All these football codes started from the time some butchers apprentices grabbed a pig bladder and incorporated it in rough-house play.
    Professional modern sport is so far from the original spirit of playful combat as to be not the same thing at all.

  17. Arky

    We had a game at high school called “pinkies”.
    This involved everyone chasing a single individual around the schoolyard, cornering and capturing him and then slapping the shit out of him until he was pink all over.
    He then got to nominate the next victim to be chased down and assaulted.
    Best fun ever!

  18. Deplorable

    I suppose it depends on whether you consider a lettuce leaf slap from the players as opposed to a possibly really threatening statement from others. Perhaps the Essendon players should have engaged the Russians or CFMEU or any number of bikie gangs to negotiate on their behalf, the result may have been different. It does happen.
    Anyway too much money has spoilt sport at that level.

  19. Deplorable

    Robbo
    #2499003, posted on September 16, 2017 at 10:09 am
    No doubt this is a very important issue. Meanwhile in London a raving nutcase set off a bomb on an underground train but never mind that. The Essendon drugs drama has our full attention.

    Well the problem is this crap is going on too long without any positive moves to combat it. The only way the parliament,the courts and police will change everything they have stuffed up is when they are the ones being targeted. Until then it is becoming a yawn when the voters keep applauding politicians for their stupidity despite ordinary citizenships being slaughtered in the streets. You get what you vote for.

  20. Muddy

    That’s a fair point, Robbo. But on the other hand, if all we do is fret and worry about something over which we have almost no control … The only way we could effectively exert our influence is to DEMAND, clearly, concisely, and in very large numbers, our political representatives take action. Do you really see that happening? People here are still debating whether or not to give Tony Abbott another chance!

  21. JB5

    @jupes

    Just to clarify, I’m talking about “professional sport”, not your local variety which is the antithesis of all paid sports. Getting your kids involved in sport throughout their formulative years, especially the boys, is imperative.

    But paying for a “jersey” (or other merchandise) with various mega corporations logos (shouldn’t they be paying YOU – I guess not), and with another (usually much younger) mans name on the back of said jersey, is the very definition of cuck.

    And as to sportspeople being “hero’s”, that’s ludicrous and a topic for another time.

  22. Tel

    You just proved his point. You froth at the mouth when someone questions your beloved sport but sit idly by while our country is invaded by muslims, our economy is destroyed, or jobs offshored, our traditions whittled away, our wealth frittered to nothing.

    No that’s incorrect. Jupes did sit and bitch about all those other things, just like he sits and bitches about sport.

  23. Bill Griffiths

    The point at this stage of proceedings is that no-one wants to do anything about it. Not the club, probably not the players and certainly not the AFL. Withdrawing from WADA means AFL players would be restricted from participating in other sports and the Australian government would be under enormous pressure from athletes, swimmers and so on if it considered withdrawing from WADA.

    Dreadful as it is, Alan, this episode is now over. If your aim is to prove WADA is corrupt, further proof is not necessary. Most people asume that already but there’s not much that can be done about unless the US decides to take action over it and they seem to have other things on their minds.

  24. Slayer of Memes

    Dear Allan (and Essendon supporters in general),

    Just some helpful advice.

    Sincerely,
    The Rest of Australia

  25. jupes

    You just proved his point. You froth at the mouth when someone questions your beloved sport but sit idly by while our country is invaded by muslims, our economy is destroyed, or jobs offshored, our traditions whittled away, our wealth frittered to nothing.

    Fuck off dickhead.

  26. Allan

    Dear Slayer of memes. Thank you for the helpful advice:
    Phil Ochs puts it better than I could about why I am not taking your advice:

  27. DB

    Give it a rest Allan.
    Essendon cheated.

  28. Allan

    DB The AFL Tribunal comprising two Australian judges, applying Australian legal principles said they didn’t. I suggest you give it a rest or better still have a look at the facts and educate yourself.

  29. Mark A

    Barry 1963
    #2499067, posted on September 16, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Hird can’t let go.

    I know I’m extrapolating here a bit, but the reason we are in deep doodoo politically and economically in OZ bc of attitudes like yours.
    Wrongs is wrongs! Simple as that.
    But you would go on and forgive and forget all wrongs perpetrated by past government and their agencies.
    Grow up man! If you don’t fight for what is right, what do you fight for?
    Nothing, and let it all flow over your head.
    I pity you.

  30. James

    I love the selective interpretations… WADA can’t be trusted because they have an agenda, but the AFL Tribunal is completely agenda free? Come on, man.

    And frankly, the Tribunal result didn’t ‘clear the players’ or state that the club didn’t cheat. It merely said they weren’t ‘comfortably satisfied’ thyomosin beta-4 (which they confirmed WAS a banned substance) had been administered to players. But that’s because no records were kept, and if that were a satisfactory excuse for taking banned substances, it would be a free pass for every wannabe drug cheat out there. Hence the subsequent appeal and CAS decision.

    But there’s an easy way to clear all this up. Put aside all the legal semantics and simply tell us what the players were injected with, Allan.

    Oh that’s right, you can’t, because you don’t know.

    Neither do the players – it must be terrible running around wondering if you’re a drug cheat. I bet Jobe thinks about it a lot, considering he elevated his form to Brownlow standard during the injections and reverted to type once the drugs stopped… not to mention the players with fears about potential impacts on their health.

    Essendon systematically cheated, and suffered consequences for doing so. I get that it’s hard for family and supporters to accept, but it does you no credit to keep dragging it up like a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist. Let it go, and move on. Life’s too short.

  31. Pingback: Allan Hird: Why did WADA go after Essendon players but let Russian drug cheats go unpunished? | Catallaxy Files | Cranky Old Crow

  32. Barry 1963

    Well said James. Two phenomena of recent times: 1 a person who tests positive for drugs says someone spiked my drink etc. 2 someone posts something offensive on social media says my page was hacked. Yes, it could happen, but the evidence is usually not forthcoming.

  33. Steve Smith

    Who cares? Very few outside of Hird who keeps on harping back to this to excuse his part. There are far more important issues to think about then a drug scandal in a sport which is minor by world standards.

  34. Yohan

    I don’t believe a word about ‘conclusive proof’ of Russian cheating. Russia has now become the new whipping boy for any and all problems.

    Montenegro even got membership into NATO by arresting two local Russian criminals and claiming an assassination plot, which was then fed as news to US politicians just before the UN vote. In this time any and every lie about Russia is accepted as fact.

  35. John J

    I have appreciated Allen’s series of well articulated comments on this subject.

    When something is as politically tainted as this matter was by the Labour government and a large number of people were hurt by that corruption then no, it’s not a case of just letting it go.

    Elimination of political corruption is still one of the ongoing challenges of western democracy. Equality before the law is one of the key bedrocks of human advancement which western democracy has achieved.

    Allan has raised this matter again because Twiggy has complained to those he donates to and sought an investigation into the Force’s dropping from SuperRugby. That is what stinks, more political corruption.

    We may have to move on in life, but to forget is just aiding and abetting the criminals.

    Unfortunately commercialization of any activity inevitably leads to lawyers finding ways around the rules. The answer to that is ‘succincter’ rules and get rid of activist judges and interpretive referees. Oh and of course the lawyers.

    If the Australian judiciary found them not guilty then that’s where it should have ended, it was an Australian only activity.

  36. Allan

    James
    I thought Sinclair’s blog was for rational people and not post-modernists but after reading your post I guess you have proven me wrong.
    Only a post-modernists would argue because no-one knows what was taken the players are, therefore, guilty. Under Australian law one is innocent until proven guilty not the other way round. If no one knows what the players took as you assert, how then can they be guilty?

    You have stated:
    ‘But that’s because no records were kept, and if that were a satisfactory excuse for taking banned substances, it would be a free pass for every wannabe drug cheat out there. Hence the subsequent appeal and CAS decision.’
    Think about that statement. It doesn’t make sense does it, unless of course you are a post modernist. Because the players don’t know what they took they are guilty. Following that logic most of us should be locked up.
    But of course you are wrong to assert the players did not know what they took. They do know and they do know they did not take TB4. Two Australian judges and an Australian barrister said so.

    Get hold of Chip Le Grand’s book, The Straight Dope and educate yourself.

  37. James

    Allan, forget the name calling for a moment (it really cheapens your argument) and please link to where these Australian judges said the players did not take tb4. Or if you don’t want to link, a verbatim quote will suffice. I don’t believe you can, because such a judgement has never been made.

    Same goes for your assertion that the players know what they were injected with – I’d be happy to be proven wrong if you can. Or is that just an assertion based on what you (or they) would like to believe? Surely, if they know what they were injected with, they could have provided that information and all the supporting records to the authorities and thus avoided this whole sorry state of affairs.

    Or maybe they did know – that might explain why none of the eighteen different players who had been drug tested on a total of thirty occasions during the course of the program had declared the supplements injections on their doping control forms. (Looks kinda weird if you’ve got nothing to hide, right?)

    Innocent until proven guilty is a fine principle, and is rightly enshrined in our legal system, but trying to reduce the complexities of the legal system to one principle is simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst.

    For example, if you want to argue legal process, it could easily be stated the ‘links in the chain’ methodology used by the Tribunal is flawed. If just one link in the chain of evidence cannot be proved, it invalidates every other link in that chain that can be. Lance Armstrong would have lived such a system – his blood tests would have invalidated a bunch of other evidence, despite the fact he was guilty as sin. (He never tested positive either, did he? Give the man a Brownlow!)

    The ‘strands in the cable’ methodology used by CAS is designed to deal specifically with these types of cases where parties deliberately fail to maintain records where they may be incriminating. A case still has to be made, and evidence still had to be produced. It simply throws less probable evidence out – surely innocent parties would be ok with as much evidence been considered as possible.

    As for your rather condescending suggestion that I educate myself, I have already read extensively on the matter. You’ll forgive me for placing more weight on statements from recognised international legal bodies than on Chip Le Grand’s editorialising on the subject.

    Or that of a father whose objectivity is hopelessly compromised by his son’s involvement. I bear nobody ill will over any of this, but remain convinced justice has been done.

  38. allan

    James

    CAS is an internationalist legal body? I thought it was a creature of the IOC and WADA. CAS has more credence than two Australian judges? Really!
    Innocence until proven guilty is a fine legal principle, BUT. There is no ‘but’ to that principle, else we are all guilty before the law.

    It is ‘not naming calling’ to characterise you as postmodernist. It is simply a fact.

  39. James

    Allan, feel free to respond to my argument if you can. Or not. It doesn’t really make any difference.

    But if you’d rather deal in semantics, gross simplifications, or just avoid the discussion by painting me with labels, then you know what? Don’t bother. It’s wasting both of our time.

  40. Allan

    James
    How about Australian law is based on the principle innocent until proven guilty. CAS adjudications are not.
    Which do you prefer? I don’t consider the distinction between Australian law and CAS ‘law’semantic or a gross simplification. To my pre-postmodernist world view it is simply an important principle to adhere to.

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