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WADA appeals against Essendon doping decision

WADA appeal shocks Hird Matt Thompson with the latest news as Essendon and the AFL respond to WADA's decision to appeal.

• 'Shocked' Bombers set for another season of stress: Hird
• AFL CEO hopes for only 'a couple of days of noise'
• Ten things you need to know about WADA's appeal

THE ESSENDON supplements scandal is not over, with the World Anti-Doping Agency appealing the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal's decision to clear 34 present and former Essendon players of using banned substances.

WADA will take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and has courts located there, in Sydney and in New York.

It is a blow for the Bombers and the AFL and could see the saga drag out for the remainder of 2015.

Players are permitted to continue playing while the appeal progresses.

WADA has reviewed the case prepared initially by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that led to the Anti-Doping Tribunal hearing.

Read the Anti-Doping Tribunal's full statement

"After a thorough examination of the evidence contained within the (ASADA) file, WADA has decided to lodge its independent right of appeal to the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport," WADA director general David Howman said in a statement released early onTuesday Australian time.

"As with all pending cases, and adhering to the proper and normal respect for the integrity of the legal process, WADA will refrain from commenting further on the subject until a decision has been made by CAS," the statement said.

The 34 past and present Essendon players were found not guilty of taking banned peptide Thymosin beta-4 by the David Jones-chaired AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal on the eve of this season.

The charges date back to the Bombers' supplements regime during the 2012 season, overseen by controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank. 

New date for Dank hearing

Dank has been found guilty of some charges by the AFL panel, but there is no mention of him in WADA's statement.

Timing for the CAS hearing process is yet to be revealed.

The AFL released a statement on Tuesday acknowledging WADA's decision, but noting that no further comment would be made.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, ASADA welcomed WADA's decision to appeal. 

ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt said the authority would fully support WADA in its action. 

"ASADA has handed over a comprehensive brief of evidence to assist WADA in its preparation for the CAS hearing," he said.

Essendon chairman Paul Little told Triple M on Tuesday morning WADA's decision had taken the club by surprise.

He said he had been confident there wouldn't be an appeal.

"There was such a unanimous decision out of the tribunal, and then of course ASADA decided there was insufficient evidence to appeal, and that gave us confidence that the WADA situation being, if you like, more remote, would be found in our favour, but not to be."

AFL Players' Association chief Paul Marsh, said, "We are extremely disappointed for the players, who have had to endure over two years of uncertainty and will now have to endure further stress and the inevitable disruption to their playing careers.

"We will be in a position to comment on this matter further once we have consulted with the players’ legal team and the players involved."

Essendon legend Tim Watson, the father of Bombers skipper Jobe, expressed his surprise at the decision and said it would have an impact on the players.  

"The players will be waking up this morning and hearing this information for the first time and they'll be thinking 'Oh no, here we go again, we've got to go through this whole process of uncertainty again'," Watson said on SEN radio. 

"The players got to a point where they were able to compartmentalise the whole thing, and they all breathed that sigh of relief when they heard the Tribunal's [decision with some] closure, and now it's going to be reopened.  

"It will be very interesting to see what their reaction is and how they will deal with it this time round."

Seventeen or 18 players from the 34 originally served with infraction notices for allegedly using banned substances remain with Essendon. 

They did not play during this season's NAB Challenge as a way of reducing the impact of any subsequent suspension that might have been backdated to when they last appeared in a competitive match.

Former Bombers Patrick Ryder and Angus Monfries, now with Port Adelaide, and Stewart Crameri, now with the Western Bulldogs, also did not play in the pre-season matches.

Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield believes WADA's appeal will fail. Speaking to radio station FIVEaa, the AFLPA board member said the 34 players had done nothing wrong.

"They must have some sort of new evidence, the players have been cleared … it's just disappointing it's been brought up again," he said.

"One thing WADA have done, they've appealed two different decisions before and failed both times, so I expect the players to be cleared because I don't think there's any wrongdoing on their behalf."

More to come