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Shut out: AFL anti-doping hearing into past and present Bombers to be closed to public

THE ANTI-DOPING charges against 34 past and present Essendon players will be heard in private.

The chairman of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, David Jones, ruled that the hearing would take place in camera, despite submissions by lawyers for the media organisations and the AFL that they be at least made open to accredited media. 

Click here to read the full ruling by Tribunal chairman David Jones

At the earlier directions hearing on November 18AFL lawyer Jeff Gleeson SC argued that chairman Jones should exercise his discretion to conduct the hearing in public given the significant public interest in the matter over an extended period of time and the importance of the proceedings to AFL football's integrity.
 
Justin Quill, representing four media outlets, said an open hearing would help restore confidence in the AFL by increasing the public's understanding and acceptance of the Anti-Doping Tribunal's eventual ruling.

"There has been no greater risk to the game of AFL football,” Quill said.

"But there is no greater opportunity to restore confidence than by an open hearing.”
 
Quill said it was the "exact type of case" for which the chairman should exercise his discretion to call a public hearing under the AFL Anti-Doping Code.

Legal counsel for two of the 34 players charged by the AFL also gave a submission in favour of an open hearing. 

On Monday, however, Jones ruled in favour of a closed hearing. 

"After weighing in the balance all the relevant circumstances, considerations and factors, I am satisfied the public interest in preserving and protecting the privacy and private and personal information of the 32 players outweighs the public interest in the public receiving information to the hearing," he said in his ruling. 

"I am satisfied that the only way their privacy and private and personal information can be preserved and protected is by the hearing being conducted in private."

The hearing will commence on December 15 in a courtroom at the County Court of Victoria, continuing on December 18-19 and resuming on January 12, 2015.