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Games must form part of bans: Ings

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Jobe Watson admits taking banned drug

Essendon captain Jobe Watson says he signed a consent form to be injected with WADA-banned drug AOD-9604, but believed the substance was legal.

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Believing it is now impossible for Jobe Watson, and any other Essendon player who admits taking AOD-9604, to avoid a doping rule violation charge, former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority boss Richard Ings says any suspensions will have to include a significant number of matches.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, athletes found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation face suspensions between six months and two years.

Speaking to Fairfax Media after Watson - the AFL's reigning Brownlow medallist and Essendon captain - confessed to taking an anti-obesity drug prohibited by WADA, Ings forecast complex legal challenges about the status of the substance.

But he says it is inevitable that Watson will face anti-doping rule violation charges.

"I cannot see a path … that does not involve one or more individuals being found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation," he said.

"Whilst there is no doubt that there will be legal challenges as to the status of AOD-9604, WADA appears to have a resolute view that the substance is banned."

Watson also said on Fox Footy's On The Couch on Monday night he was not concerned about the ASADA probe because he believed he had done nothing wrong.

Ings refused to comment directly about the specifics of Watson's admission to taking AOD-9604, but highlighted the importance of honesty and co-operation in doping investigations.

"By coming forward and being open and frank and honest, players will find themselves in the strongest position to mitigate any penalty that they might otherwise have received," he said.

"By doing that they place themselves in the most favourable position to receive reduced sanctions under the WADA code.

''The disclosures made [by Watson] would not be a surprise, in my view, to ASADA. These facts simply confirm the importance of ASADA's ongoing investigation to determine where fault for the use of banned substances rests.''

Ings' view is that unless lawyers can successfully mount a case that AOD-9604 is, or was, somehow not a banned substance, any athlete found to have taken the drug after January 1, 2011, cannot avoid anything more lenient than a six-month ban from "recognised competition".

ASADA, which is continuing its investigation into Essendon, will eventually make recommendations about the case to an AFL anti-doping tribunal that will sit in judgment of the Bombers.

ASADA will ultimately have to approve any findings of the tribunal, and Ings said he could not envisage the government-funded body accepting footballers serving suspensions entirely out of season.

He would expect that, in the case of an AFL player receiving a six-month ban, he would have to miss a substantial number of pre-season and regular-season matches.

"The normal minimal sanction for a doping violation is a six-month suspension … if you provided assistance," he said. "Any players who have been involved in using the banned substance AOD-9604 have a very serious question to answer as to the possible violation of anti-doping rules."

8 comments so far

  • Hopefully outcomes from the investigation will be commensurate with World Anti Doping Agency rules but as the whole scenario involves the AFL and Andrew Demitriou there is a high chance of a white wash.

    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 8:54AM
    • Whitewash for sure - Based on past performance from the AFL and especially it's CEO, they will never properly sanction a powerful club like Essendon. Most likely a fine but they will not suspend anyone. Hope I'm wrong but doubt they have the guts.

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 1:41PM
  • Hang on!....Isn't Ings the F O R M E R Head of ASADA? This guy just keeps throwing hand grenades from the comfort of no responsibility or accountability. The go-to man for journalists who can't help but enjoy being in the spot light. What does he really know?? Sounds like the best form of defence is attack in what is shaping potentially as ASADA incompetence under HIS watch.

    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 9:30AM
    • DJ, so are you suggesting that the former head of police would know nothing about policing? Or the former head of mathematics would forget how to calculate sums?
      What he really knows is the process. To call this throwing hand grenades is a little harsh given that the current investigation is not transparent and that opinion is far from illegal.
      Even if your assertion of incompetence (ASADA) is found to be true, the bottom line fact is that ASADA incompetence does not negate the Jobe Watson admission to taking a banned substance.
      Blackchook I agree AD has plenty to answer for here, being asleep at the wheel for starters.

      Pill Jar
      The Lab
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 12:06PM
    • They go to him as he is the most relevant person "allowed" to make comment. Public does want information and who better than the former head to comment on the likely outcome. I would like Essendon to explain why it was being used if not for performance enhancing?? I dont think it was for fun, cause I doubt they are having fun now!! Victim of circumstance maybe, but the brownlow should be handed back, and massive reprocussions felt by Essendon. Cant get away with it by blaming one guy, sorry!

      Darwin Lad
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 12:13PM
  • A horse trainer can expect to be disqualified if banned substances are found on premises let alone if it was administered..
    The son of Bart Cummings was outed for 18 months over implants placed in horses.
    He protested that he was assured they were legal.
    One of the Dank texts to Hird extolled.......
    "We have cerebrolysin, we will re-oxygenate and re-circulate the brain.
    Jimmy and Bomber have some explaining to do
    Maybe they should have taken some..

    new brighton
    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 10:56AM
    • I absolutely feel for the Essendon FC players. I am a one eyed Carlton supporter and it's in my DNA to dislike Essendon with a passion, but the EFC players appear to have had no idea that what their Club was putting them through was illegal. They are the victims in this saga.

      The Club however, is not. Essendon failed to govern their internal suppliments program adequately - if at all. There was not adequate checking mechanisms in place to ensure the program was legitimate, safe for players and within the WADA and ASADA boundaries.

      Therefore, the only punishment I believe to be fair for the EFC, is for their 2013 Premiership points to be withdrawn and to play fo rthe rest of the season for no points.

      I do not believe that punishing players - who, by all accounts had no idea that what they were being injected with was illegal - should personally pay the price of a lack of due diligence by their employer. No player should be suspended, in other words.

      The Club should end up finishing bottom of the ladder with no priority picks in the 2014 draft.

      Surely what the EFC has done is much bigger than Carlton's salary cap breach debarcle? The punishment the AFL handed out over that is only now fading for the Carlton Football Club. It took ten years for Carlton to rebuild, and if the punishment for Essendon isn't similar then the AFL will have a lot to answer for, becuase surely a whole Club taking banned substances which are meant to enhance performance is the same, or even worse than, the salary cap breaches Carlton were found guilty of.

      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 1:23PM
      • What a mess. The only thing that footballers took when I was a boy and started watching this game is most likely banned now, and that was a can of beer and a meat pie after the game.

        The Hill
        Date and time
        June 26, 2013, 1:56PM

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