The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has completed its investigation of the AFL and NRL without speaking to Stephen Dank, the central figure in the drama at Essendon and Cronulla.
Dank, the controversial figure who oversaw the supplements programs at the Bombers in 2012 and Cronulla the previous year, told Fairfax Media on Wednesday he had not been contacted by ASADA officials.
ASADA chief executive Aurora Andruska told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday: ”We have completed the investigation phase. The next step for us is now the review of the evidence and formation of briefs.”
Andruska said former Federal Court judge Garry Downes would assist the authority in this process. ”His role largely is to look at the evidence we have and to determine from his position whether or not the evidence is sufficient to take cases forward.”
But she stressed Downes’ work would not hold up the authority’s work. ”We have briefs that we are preparing right now and we will continue to work through that, and issue show cause letters and take matters through the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel and other tribunals as the process proceeds,” she said.
ASADA says an Australian Federal Police and Deloitte investigation has found no one within its organisation was responsible for leaking sensitive information to the media.
At the peak of ASADA’s investigation, several sensitive documents were published in the media last year.
It was enough to force Andruska to call in the AFP and Deloitte to go over the organisation with a fine-tooth comb. ”There were media suggestions, and from other quarters, that the organisation was leaking,” she said. ”I brought in Deloitte and the AFP to make examination of any leaks occurring, and there were none. ASADA was not leaking.”
Andruska said the investigation examined all communication made and received by the organisation over the past several years.
She said she could only speculate where the leaks came from and, when invited by the senators to do so, replied: ”I don’t think that’s an answer I’d give.”
The investigation into the supplements programs continues.
Richard Ings, CEO of ASADA before Andruska took over, said on Wednesday night that while the announcement about the investigation being complete was significant, there could yet be many months of work required on the cases.
“This means that ASADA has spoken to all the people it needs to speak to, it has collected all the documents it needs to collect, it has all the testimony from witnesses it needs. So basically it’s got the universe of evidence it believes is applicable to each person of interest in an investigation,” Ings said.
“The process next for ASADA is to write up an evidentiary brief. That’s ASADA lawyers, and maybe outside counsel, assessing all this evidence to make a recommendation about whether any person has a case to answer; or equally whether the evidence suggests that no person has a case to answer.
“ASADA lawyers will prepare an evidentiary brief for each person of interest. Based on what has been said publicly by ASADA, as many as 30 persons of interest across both codes have been the focus of this investigation”
Ings said it could take many months simply to complete a very complicated brief. A more straightforward case would be prepared significantly more quickly.
Once the briefs are completed with recommendations, they are passed to ASADA’s Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel, which then reviews each evidentiary brief and decides whether or not it agrees with each recommendation.
Only once the ADRVP determines there is a case for an athlete to answer, does the relevant sport have to establish a panel to consider the case. The World Anti-Doping Agency can only appeal a finding once it is considered by such a tribunal.
“You just can’t predict a timeline with this,” Ings said.
With Samantha Lane