The Essendon supplements saga finally has a hearing date, though it’s unclear whether media will be allowed inside.
The AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal has tentatively set aside December 15 to hear the case against 34 players accused of taking banned substances.
A three-hour meeting of the tribunal on Tuesday couldn’t resolve the question of privacy for the past and present Essendon players.
On the side of transparency is the AFL and media organisations, with the players’ association prioritising confidentiality.
Channel Nine reported Justin Quill, a lawyer acting for media, arguing the case for an open hearing.
“There has been no greater risk to the game of AFL football,” Quinn said.
“But there is no greater opportunity to restore confidence then by an open hearing.”
Fairfax Media revealed that players are not united in their request for a private hearing, with two former Bombers, Stewart Crameri and Brent Prismall, giving their consent for a public trial.
No previous Australian anti-doping case has been heard in public.
The tribunal made a statement late on Tuesday saying it “will provide reasons for its decision in due course”, setting aside December 8 to finalise procedural matters.
It also asked the rival camps to “work together to narrow the scope of potential issues”, suggesting a complex assessment ahead.
Former County Court judge David Jones chaired the directions hearing as one of three men on the tribunal, with fellow ex-judge John Nixon and barrister and former AFL player Wayne Henwood.
If the 34 players are found guilty of doping in 2012, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) will push for suspensions, although any bans could be backdated to November 14 when the AFL issued the infraction notices.