WADA has decided not to appeal the sanction imposed by ASADA on 12 National Rugby League (NRL) players for breaches of the NRL anti-doping rules.
WADA’s decision is based upon the following facts evidenced by full examination of the case files:
a.The players accepted that they committed breaches of the anti-doping rules.
b. The accepted breaches carry a potential sanction of two years.
c. Consideration of all relevant facts in respect of the breaches shows that the players raised a defence of “no significant fault”. The sanctions were reduced by 50% pursuant to the World Anti-Doping Code rules. This defence is sustainable and acceptable.
d. The 12 month sanctions were deemed to commence on November 2013, such “backdating” being justified by the delays in the process which could not be and were not attributable to any action or lack of action on the part of the players (or their representatives). It is this last aspect of the sanctioning process that required close review.
WADA has determined that full scrutiny of the file revealed that the number of delays were directly the result of the lack of activity or decision by either ASADA or the Australian government. In particular WADA notes that:
i. Nothing was done by ASADA to advance the matter following the completion of the ASADA investigation in November 2013 for many months.
ii. The Australian government decided, for reasons it considered appropriate, to appoint a retired judge (Downes) to review the ASADA files. It took some months for Downes to complete his task in early April 2014.
iii. There is no explanation for the continued inaction from ASADA following the receipt of the Downes report in April 2014 until steps were formally taken by ASADA in August 2014.
WADA is not entirely satisfied with the outcome of this case and the practical period of the 12 month suspensions that will actually be served by the players. However, having fully considered all circumstances, WADA is of the view that an appeal would not advance the fight against doping in any meaningful way.