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Australian Football League clears players of peptide use

31 March 2015, 12:22

Melbourne - The Australian Football League said Tuesday that its anti-doping tribunal has cleared 34 former and current Australian rules football players of taking a banned supplement.

David Grace, a lawyer representing the players, said the closed AFL hearing found insufficient evidence the players were injected with the banned peptide Thymosin Beta-4 while with the Essendon club in 2012.

The not guilty finding by the three-person tribunal was unanimous.

"The tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player was administered Thymosin Beta-4," AFL tribunal chairman David Jones said in a statement. "The tribunal was not comfortably satisfied that any player violated clause 11.2 of the AFL Anti-Doping Code."

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) said it was disappointed by the ruling and it would decide Wednesday if it will appeal the tribunal's finding.

"What happened at Essendon in 2012 was, in my opinion, absolutely and utterly disgraceful," ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt said. "It was not a supplements program but an injection regime and the players and the fans were so poorly let down by the club.

"While I am obviously disappointed that the charges in this instance have not been proven to the comfortable satisfaction of the tribunal, I am pleased that the tribunal was able to finally hear these matters."

ASADA issued violations to the past and present Essendon players last June over the alleged use of the supplement following a 16-month investigation. The doping agency alleged the banned substances were given to the players at the suggestion of a sports scientist hired by the team.

In August, 12 current or former players from Cronulla's National Rugby League team, which employed the same sports scientist, accepted backdated one-year ban.

- AP


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