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Supplements saga may drag on for years

The ASADA process may not be the end of the story; it could be just the start of the story
Lawyer Kamal Farouque
THE END of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation next month may only be the beginning of years of legal drama for Essendon.

If the Bombers are proven to have endangered the health of their players they could be in breach of Victoria's workplace safety laws and face fines totaling more than $1 million.

The club could also face a lengthy legal fight with its players for compensation related to damaged reputations and loss of earnings.  

"It could be significant sums of money and it could be a very long period to recover those sums," Maurice Blackburn's principal in employment law Kamal Farouque told AFL.com.au.

"The ASADA process may not be the end of the story; it could be just the start of the story," he said.  

He indicated any litigation process could last two years.

ASADA and AFL are continuing a probe into the Bombers' 2012 supplements program, with the findings due in August.

So far Victoria's workplace regulator is not investigating, but it hasn't ruled out looking into the case after other inquiries are complete.

Bombers may lose points or picks

“WorkSafe is not investigating this matter as more appropriate bodies are looking into the issue," a spokesman told AFL.com.au.

Under section 21 of the 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Act there could be grounds to prosecute.

"An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health," the act reads.

Both organisations and individuals can be liable for massive fines, although WorkSafe rarely takes action against individuals.

"If any employer in the course of employment administered or procured their employees to have administered a substance which endangered their health and safety then that would raise obvious implications under the Occupational Health and Safety Act," Farouque said.  

"If there was the potential for that then Essendon could be investigated by WorkSafe, and if WorkSafe thought that there was sufficient evidence to sustain a prosecution they could be prosecuted by WorkSafe," he said.

Matt Thompson is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @MattThompsonAFL