The lawyer who represented suspended Swan Districts premiership player Travis Casserly during his drugs hearing has urged Essendon players to remain silent and force the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to prove they took drugs that were performance-enhancing.
Perth lawyer Simon Watters defended Casserly after he tested positive to pseudoephedrine following the 2010 WAFL grand final.
Casserly received a two-year ban after taking Sudafed. Bombers players risk being suspended for the same amount of time if found guilty. Essendon asked the AFL and ASADA to investigate the club when doubts were raised about the legality of supplements given to players last season. No player has tested positive to illegal drugs and the Bombers are confident they've done nothing wrong.
They have guaranteed the full co-operation of everyone at the club, but Watters said players should avoid answering questions.
"If I was defending a player, my advice would be to exercise your right to silence," Watters said.
"On the one hand you're saying co-operate and say 'I took the supplement', but there's no actual test. There's no samples that have been obtained, there's no blood or urine samples to say you were positive on this day. There's nothing like that.
"How are ASADA ever going to establish that a particular player took it on a particular day or it was in their system on a particular day?
"It may well be that Essendon have got all these medical records that show on the 5th of June, we gave all our senior squad X or Y.
"Even that wouldn't be enough to pin a player.
"A player could say 'no, that's not right. That's wrong. That didn't happen'. So my advice would be to remain silent."
Sacked employee Stephen Dank has denied giving the players banned substances. Yesterday it emerged that Bombers coach James Hird received dietary advice from convicted drug trafficker Shane Charter - the man who allegedly supplied Dank with supplements - during the early 2000s.
Another sports lawyer said Essendon players could throw themselves at the mercy of ASADA.
The lawyer, who did not want to be named, said players could reduce any bans from two years to six months by co-operating in a club-triggered investigation because the anti-doping code had a special assistance clause.
Former Bomber Mark McVeigh is adamant the supplements were approved by doctors after checking the WADA code. Watters said McVeigh's revelation that players signed consent forms after being guaranteed the supplements were not illegal meant they could take legal action against the club if ASADA found the supplements were banned."If I was defending a player, my advice would be to exercise your right to silence."" Perth lawyer *Simon Watters *
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