Shattered

No apologies, once I’ve started I’m not going to stop, and anyway, the more I hear the more certain I am that the Essendon 34 are victims of a stitch-up.

I read an interview yesterday with David Howman, the head of WADA, where he said that they were always going to appeal the AFL tribunal because it set a bad precedent for their cause. By the same token, if they couldn’t afford not to appeal, then equally they couldn’t afford an innocent verdict. WADA appointed the tribunal members, and I would suggest manipulated the result – for the reasons given – to ensure that nothing other than a guilty verdict was handed down.

Think that’s a stretch – then how’s this. One of the players in question, Mark McVeigh, testified that the only injections he received were of melatonan, which he was administered to help him sleep after a new baby. McVeigh was presumably confused by the very similar sounding melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep; melanotan gives you a tan, and neither are banned.

McVeigh misspoke, in a perfectly understandable manner, but CAS chose to interpret it in a more sinister fashion. In their wisdom CAS decided that McVeigh was either lying, or was deceived, because – and get this – he confirmed he didn’t get a tan. Ergo, it wasn’t melanotan, meaning then it must be TB4 (I know, convoluted logic, but…) – rather than the more obvious melatonin.

McVeigh, and the rest of the players, were suspended on the basis of this sort of interpretation.

There are several points to made about this, the first one being the unlikely extrapolation of events made by CAS, which however appears to be consistent throughout their judgement.

The second one being that CAS contend that the players were lying to cover-up, had knowledge of the program, and therefore weren’t entitled to any discounts on their penalty. Putting aside that there’s scant evidence for such a claim, this particular instance makes a lie of it. If McVeigh believed he was getting melatonin, and in fact was administered TB4 (as CAS claim), then he was deceived, and entitled to the leniency that CAS have denied him.

Finally, and here’s the kicker. McVeigh didn’t get a tan because he took a supplement to help him sleep – melatonin. He told them he took it to help him sleep, but said melanotan instead of melatonin. A reasonable man would put two and two together and realise the quite understandable mistake. But not CAS. He said melanotan so he must mean melanotan – but since he didn’t get a tan then his testimony is invalidated, and the supplement must have been something else. For reasons that are hard to comprehend, CAS chose to believe that the actual supplement taken was TB4 (without supporting evidence), rather than melatonin, as 99% of reasonable people would do.

This is the sort of reasoning CAS used to convict these people. It’s disgraceful.

Really, it’s unbelievable. McVeigh lost his job on Tuesday because of this. All the other 33 affected have had their careers either terminated or put on hold. I read an emotional post yesterday from the wife of one of the players where she said her belief in justice had ended, and that she found it incomprehensible how her innocent husband could have been subject to this for so long, and then found guilty. She’s shattered. The players are shattered. The supporters are shattered.

All of this so that WADA can create a precedent, and never mind the players. The players are collateral damage in this, victimised in order to scare off potential drug cheats. How does this happen in Australia in 2015? How can it be allowed to happen?

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