14 Jun 2014

Drugs charges against AFL players

9:02 am on 14 June 2014

Australia's national anti-doping agency has charged 34 current and former Australian Rules football players with drugs violations.

The charges are the culmination of a 16-month investigation into the administration of supplements in 2012 at the Melbourne-based Essendon Bombers, one of the Australian Football League's oldest and most powerful teams.

The AFL disqualified Essendon from the competition's playoffs last year, banned the club's head coach for a year and imposed a record fine for bringing the game into disrepute.

The punishments followed an independent probe commissioned by the club which found governance failures had contributed to a "disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment".

ASADA is also investigating the administration of banned supplements to multiple players at one of the country's top-flight rugby league teams, the Sydney-based Cronulla Sharks, and is expected to lay charges in coming days.

Stephen Dank, a sports scientist formerly employed by Essendon and who also worked with the Sharks, was charged by ASADA in March for his part in the supplements programme at Essendon but has yet to face further action.

He has consistently denied wrongdoing and says he'll fight the charges.