Explosive submissions lodged in the Federal Court by James Hird and Essendon on Friday detail the divide which grew internally within the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and also in its relationship with the AFL as tensions grew during the supplements scandal last year.
The documents that Essendon handed up
Sports reporter Jon Pierik explains the documents that were given to the Federal Court on Friday ahead of the case between Essendon and ASADA beginning on Monday.
ASADA’s internal issues were highlighted in an email on August 19 sent by investigator John Nolan to anti-doping chief Aurora Andruska, as ASADA appeared to shift from the agreement that its investigation with the AFL had been a joint probe.
Nolan wrote that ‘‘the 173 emails I have sent you clearly demonstrate that the interim investigation report was the product of a joint endeavour with the AFL. If that is accepted, it is difficult to understand why ASADA is claiming sole ownership/control’’.
‘‘Put simply, if ASADA wanted to maintain control of the joint interim investigation report, it should never have entered into a collaborative arrangement with the AFL.’’
Hird and the Bombers have alleged the investigation into the club’s supplements program was unlawful as ASADA worked outside of its powers. This is the basis of their court action against ASADA, beginning on Monday.
In a flurry of emails on August 19, ASADA lawyer Elen Perdikogiannis was also involved, adding: ‘‘ASADA and the AFL have reached a truce, but we still have James Hird to contend with.’’
Hird, by that stage, had issued a Supreme Court challenge against the jurisdiction of the AFL Commission. A truce between the AFL and ASADA was reached through a document called a ‘‘protocol’’ being signed by the AFL.
Essendon court documents made public
Submissions have been revealed for the upcoming Federal Court case between ASADA and the Essendon football club.
ASADA and the AFL had fallen out over the release of the interim report, with the parties arguing over what should be included and whether AFL integrity chief Brett Clothier should even have access to it. It’s alleged the AFL had access to the interim report as early as June.
The documents submitted to the court highlight how desperate the AFL was to have resolution before last year’s finals. Hird and the Bombers also allege the interim report, released in early August last year, breached confidentiality, as it should not have been given to the AFL to use as part of its case to take action against Hird and the club for governance breaches.
It has emerged that an Essendon player interviewed on March 22 last year also challenged the legality of the process. The player, whose name was redacted, ‘‘asked whether Brett Clothier or Abraham Haddad would be present during any of the player interviews’’.
‘‘Answer: Yes. This is a joint investigation. (Redacted) said that he would object to either Clothier or Haddad asking questions during the interviews based on his interpretation of the relevant legislation.’’
In April, Andruska responded to Essendon lawyers that ‘‘ASADA does not believe that there is anything preventing us from conducting a joint investigation with the AFL’’.
Amid hundreds of documents submitted during the discovery process, the Essendon and Hird camps also alleged Perdikogiannis in June last year had been told of an AFL strategy meeting where the league wished to ‘‘keep pressure on ASADA to be the ‘bad guy’ ’’.
‘‘It was reported that the AFL had stated in respect of the player support staff, such as Hird, that the ‘AFL will go them’.’’
This came at a time when McLachlan ‘‘reported there was board pressure and that ‘prior to the (AFL) finals, how can this be resolved?’’’
The submission also claims that Andruska recorded conversations with Clothier – it does not state if Clothier knew about these – with the integrity boss concerned about what the ‘‘Hird camp’’ had been alleging about the report and AFL charges. It was noted: ‘‘Even if Hird doesn’t accept, Hird to be isolated.’’
ASADA has said it could re-issue show-cause notices to the 34 current and former Essendon players should it not win the court case before Justice John Middleton.