20 January 2016

Australian Senator asks for release of Essendon documents

Independent Australian Senator John Madigan has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to make public three documents relating to the inquiry into the use of supplements by Essendon players during the 2012 Australian Rules Football (AFL) season. Madigan, who represents the State of Victoria where the AFL and the majority of its clubs are based, has also called for a Senate inquiry.

The documents Madigan seeks to make public are:
• The 4 March 2014 final report of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigator Aaron Walker upon the conclusion of Operation Cobia (the ASADA investigation into the Essendon Football Club’s player supplements program during the 2012 AFL season);
• The independent review of Operation Cobia by former Federal Court Judge Garry Downes, as commissioned by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Minister for Sport, Peter Dutton; and
• The complete, non-public, unabridged and un-redacted final report of the Australian Crime Commission 2012-2013 special intelligence operation (Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport) known as Project Aperio (the so-called ‘public report’ of which was released on the supposed ‘blackest day in Australian sport’, 7 February 2013).

“I have taken this decisive step in light of media reports that the Turnbull Government is giving consideration to demands from Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus for access to the secret volumes of the Heydon Royal Commission’s report on trade union corruption”, said Madigan in a statement. “Each of these documents has no doubt informed decisions made by key personnel, both on the Commonwealth and AFL payrolls. Some were given access to the documents, others were merely briefed on their contents. Significant questions hang over this issue that legitimately demand the scrutiny of the Parliament.”

On 11 January, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) appeal against the Australian Football League’s (AFL) decision to clear 34 players of breaching AFL anti-doping rules, sanctioning 34 players with backdated two-year bans. There has been much debate about whether it is fair to sanction players for a programme that appears to have been initiated by the club’s former management.

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