The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) yesterday announced that it had appealed the Australian Football League (AFL) Anti-Doping Appeals Tribunal decision to clear Stephen Dank, the former sports scientist at Australian rules football club Essendon, of 21 charges of the league’s drug code. WADA Director General, David Howman, said in a statement that, ‘After a thorough examination of the evidence contained within the case file, WADA has decided to lodge its independent right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).’
In April Stephen Dank was cleared of 21 charges of the AFL’s drug code, including those relating to attempting to administer Thymosin Beta-4 – a banned peptide hormone – to players. The Tribunal did however find Dank guilty of 10 breaches of the AFL Anti-Doping Code, including ‘trafficking, attempting to traffick and complicity in matters related to a range of prohibited substances’. WADA’s appeal will be to the Court of Arbitration of Sport, the same court that it has appealed the AFL Anti-Doping Appeals Tribunal decision to clear 34 Essendon players of breaching AFL anti-doping rules.
Howman’s statement continued that, ‘As with all pending legal cases, WADA will refrain from commenting further on this matter, or indeed its recent appeal on the 34 current and former Essendon AFL players, until any decisions have been made by CAS.’ The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) said its own statement that it welcomed WADA’s decision to appeal to the CAS. ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt said, ‘ASADA notes and welcomes the decision by WADA to appeal the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal’s decision to clear Mr Dank of 21 doping charges.’ McDevitt said that ASADA would fully support the WADA initiated appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell, speaking to the Melbourne radio programme SEN Morning Glory, said that he didn’t think that WADA’s decision to appeal the ruling on Dank made any difference to the 34 Essendon players’ own case. “It shouldn’t be an enormous surprise that that’s the decision WADA have made on the back of the decision to appeal the players’ decision.”