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Gillon McLachlan: ASADA has gathered 'a lot' of evidence since interim report was released

Gillon McLachlan cannot say whether players would ultimately escape penalties.

Gillon McLachlan cannot say whether players would ultimately escape penalties. Photo: Joe Armao

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan has revealed the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has gathered "a lot" of evidence since ending its joint investigation with the AFL in August last year.

This suggests Essendon's players could face an increasingly prolonged fight to clear their names.

The Bombers and suspended coach James Hird are fighting to have the initial joint probe, which culminated in an interim report last August, deemed unlawful by the Federal Court.

Before Friday's directions hearing, Justice John Middleton has told lawyers representing the club and Hird they need to file an outline of any further evidence they have by Wednesday afternoon, having submitted their originating applications last week.

This could include whether there has been a statement of facts agreed between the parties and an indication of possible trial dates and whether any subpoenas or affidavits will be required.

Justice Middleton has said he wants to set down a date for a trial on Friday and is hopeful of eventually dealing with the case as to whether the joint investigation by the AFL and ASADA was unlawful with "some expedition".

That is welcome news for Essendon, Hird and the 34 current and former players who have been issued show-cause notices, but a court date could still be at least two months away.

But even if Hird and the Bombers are ultimately successful, and the show-cause notices are deemed illegal, ASADA has continued to build its case.

This could allow it to reissue show-cause notices backed by fresh, independent evidence, a point ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt has suggested. This, though, would almost certainly not include interviews with players.

McLachlan said he could not say whether players would ultimately escape penalty.

"We don't know what the evidence is,'' he said. "I know what was in the interim report, but there is a lot that is going to be relied upon, as I understand it, [a lot of evidence has been] gathered since then," he said.

Players have until July 11 to respond to show-cause notices but that could be influenced by Essendon's bid for an injunction and also its case over the legality of the investigation.

The specific meaning on what constitutes a "joint" investigation will be crucial.

One lawyer not involved in the case says ASADA, an independent body, could argue that when interviews were conducted it was working purely on the anti-doping side of the case, with the AFL only interested in governance matters, therefore each was not working hand in hand.

ASADA maintains it is on safe legal ground, with one part of its act giving it the power to do "all things necessary or convenient" to uphold the national anti-doping code.  

Claims there was a sweetheart agreement in place for players to escape penalty under a "no-fault or negligence" defence because they had been duped - meaning ASADA would give "favourable consideration" at the time of sanction - did not constitute a promise and would be difficult to prove, lawyers not involved in the case believe.

Lawyers also point out Justice Middleton could decide to rule only some of the evidence inadmissible, therefore the case could proceed.

In their application to the Federal Court, the Bombers believe the joint probe was "ultra vires" (beyond the scope) of ASADA's powers under the act and the National Anti-Doping Scheme, and claim ASADA staff and AFL employees during the interview process "represented the investigation as a joint investigation" and players were "compelled to provide information".

McLachlan said he did not know when there would be a resolution, because "there are so many variables".

He said on Fox Footy's On The Couch the AFL had no "visibility" on the discussions between ASADA and the lawyers representing the players.

ASADA has angered players by appearing to offer them the chance to come forward and admit they had unwittingly been injected with a banned substance - Thymosin beta 4 - by sports scientist Stephen Dank.

The players believe they were not administered anything illegal. Dank maintains he has done nothing wrong and injected players with the permitted Thymomodulin, an immunity booster safely given to infants.

"At some point, potentially the ball comes back to us [AFL], but I don't really have a line of sight of when that is going to be," McLachlan said.

He confirmed the AFL had a "doomsday" contingency plan should players be listed on the Register of Findings and ultimately receive infraction notices, and the Bombers were forced to seek replacement players. 

"I am not going to get into the specifics ... because I don't think it's appropriate to speculate because there are a multitude of scenarios. There could be no players, there could be 20 players," he said.

"If there is [20], all I can say to you is we have workshopped from the very start every possible scenario and I am comfortable ... that we would be able to get through in the worst-case scenario if that happened."

The AFL needs to retain 18 teams as part of the broadcast-rights deal that bankrolls the league. One contingency plan could be giving the Bombers access to a special draft of players in state leagues.

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COL 46 vs FRE 116 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
CAR 87 vs PTA 120 Report Stats
Thu, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE 119 vs ADE 81 Report Stats
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NTH 60 vs ESS 99 Report Stats
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HAW 139 vs BRI 91 Stats
STK 68 vs MEL 51 Report Stats
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WCE 134 vs WBU 69 Report Stats
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Round 2
Thu, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
SYD 69 vs COL 89 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
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GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
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Round 5
Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
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GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
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GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
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WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
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GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
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PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
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WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
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ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
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NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
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CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
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Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
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BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
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WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
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Round 12
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GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
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HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
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FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
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Round 13
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CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
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WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
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ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
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HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
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GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
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HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
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ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
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RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
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CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
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MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
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RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
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Round 18
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STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
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WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
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HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
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COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
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Round 19
Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
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ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
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MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
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BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
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SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
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GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
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Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
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NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
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PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
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FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
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HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
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Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
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Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
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