Dons briefed on ‘golden rules’ for questioning

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Essendon players were given a detailed written briefing, commissioned and distributed by leading sports management group Elite Sports Properties, to prepare them for interviews with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigators “trying to obtain admissions from you”.

The 23-page document, seen by Fairfax Media, listed 15 “golden rules” for answering ASADA’s questions. Number one was to “tell the truth”.

Almost 40 supplements – among them the prohibited AOD9604, growth hormone releasing peptides GRHP-2 and GRHP-6, CJC 1295 and Hexarelin – are referenced, and players are urged to reflect on which they may have received.

The introduction explained that ESP, which manages Essendon captain Jobe Watson and seven other Bomber players, commissioned the document to assist and prepare its clients for “the most serious investigation any athlete is likely to face”. After noting that “so far as ESP is aware no Essendon player has recorded an anti-doping violation” due to a positive test, the document highlighted how confessions to use of prohibited substances would be “the best way for an investigator to prove an anti-doping violation”.

Two “types” of ASADA investigations are outlined – one relating to cases where athletes have returned a positive test, and the other where doping violations are proved through admissions.

“It is one matter to admit that you received an injection. It is an entirely different matter to admit that you received an injection of a specific substance which is prohibited,” the document says.

After highlighting the World Anti-Doping Agency’s position that athletes are ultimately responsible for whatever enters their bodies, and two-year bans if doping violations are proved, it is stressed in bold that “these provisions only apply after an anti-doping violation has been established”.

The written advice ESP provided for the Bombers it represents – which was subsequently circulated among the broader playing group and shared with the AFL Players Association, which briefed players separately – also encouraged players to be calm in their interviews, give short, focused answers and to discuss what they “knew at the time, not what you have found out later”.

Point 12 in the “golden rules” for the ASADA interviews, in which some players have been grilled for 2½ hours and others released after 45 minutes, reads: “Remember the investigator is trying to obtain admissions from you.”

ESP chief executive Craig Kelly told Fairfax Media on Friday that the dossier was prepared by a legal counsel he would not name.

“Our job is to ensure that our individual players, who we look after, feel comfortable to go into an environment that they’ve not been into before,” he said.

The document outlines a series of questions for players to consider before meeting ASADA investigators and refers to four distinct periods – the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the “2012 pre-season training” period pre-Christmas, and post-Christmas. Some questions refer directly to Essendon doctor Bruce Reid and coach James Hird, sports scientist Stephen Dank and conditioning boss Dean Robinson.

Former ASADA boss Richard Ings did not want to comment specifically on how Essendon players were briefed but said it was entirely fair for athletes to receive “reasonable” advice.

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NRL ups doping regime

The NRL will consider following the lead of the AFL in publicly releasing the number of positive illicit drug results as part of a new crackdown on doping in the sport.
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Australian Rugby League Commission boss David Smith announced details of the NRL’s Athlete Biological Passport program for performance-enhancing substances, with samples to be sent to Cologne and London.

There will be a 30 per cent increase in testing, which will incorporate revolutionary screening for human growth hormone, a technique developed at the London Olympics. The focus of ASADA’s present investigations into Cronulla and other individual players revolves around the use of peptides. In another first, urine/peptide samples will be flown to the Institute of Biochemistry-Centre for Preventive Doping Research at the German Sport University Cologne for expert scrutiny.

”We will do everything we can to have a drug-free game and the new testing measures are just part of our commitment to fans and players to placing integrity and compliance at the forefront of rugby league,” Smith said. ”The ABP tests are different from traditional tests as they look at the effects of doping, rather than directly detecting the prohibited substances or methods used. This means that even if a substance has left the body, the tests will detect if it was there.”

The AFL revealed this week that 26 players had tested positive to illicit substances last year, up from six the previous year. There were also 20 cases of self-reporting last year.

Smith’s announcements on Friday centred on new measures for performance-enhancing substances, with upgrades to illicit drug policy likely to come as the code’s new integrity unit comes together. The NRL is already transparent in relation to players caught taking performance-enhancing substances. Smith hinted it could soon be in a position to provide figures on illicit positive results.

”The integrity unit will, over time, always look to respond to threats,” Smith said. ”We will always try, within the bounds of confidentiality, to be transparent. I think that’s very important …

”It’s not something I can give you an answer on now, as in ‘we’re going to be announcing these figures tomorrow’. But what I would say, as part of our broader integrity measures, we are looking to strengthen that unit and make it more transparent … We are on record as saying we will introduce a central testing regime for illicits. We do over 2000 test for illicits today and one of the other measures we’re working on is to come forward and strengthen the illicits as well.”

The introduction of the new testing measures follows consultation between the NRL, ASADA, NRL clubs and is supported by the Rugby League Players’ Association.

Smith had previously outlined his goal of ABP testing up to 50 NRL players this year, including members of the State of Origin series. While ASADA will be responsible for choosing when and whom to test, it appears this is now a formality.

Asked if players will be target tested, Smith said: ”At the end of the day, the regime is contracted to ASADA. They will operate across profile, which is really risk, so I’m sure there is a level of profiling which will take place.”

The initiatives follow the appointment of Nick Weeks as the NRL’s general manager of integrity and general counsel, as well as the establishment of the code’s first dedicated Integrity and Compliance Unit.

ASADA chief executive Aurora Andruska said the anti-doping program was as comprehensive as any in world sport and welcomed the latest initiatives. ”Rugby league already has a comprehensive anti-doping testing program, but the latest program now takes their commitment to a new level in protecting the sport from the threat of doping.”

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Big Te Huna has fighting chance thanks to Green

‘I THOUGHT I was going to go out there, get head kicked, get knocked out and lose the fight.”
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It’s hardly the kind of thought you would expect to be running through the head of one of the scariest individuals in the UFC – but that’s exactly what Penrith light heavyweight Jamie Te Huna was thinking in the weeks leading up to his most recent victory inside the octagon.

Te Huna (16 wins, five losses) is in a much better mental state as he attempts to extend his UFC winning streak to four against powerhouse Brazilian Glover Teixeira (20-2) at UFC 160 at the famed MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday afternoon, Sydney time).

And if Te Huna has his hand raised after the fight, the first person he’ll thank is his new cornerman – Danny Green.

The four-time, three-division world boxing champion has been an integral member of Te Huna’s camp to prepare for Teixeira, who goes into the bout boasting an eight-year, 18-fight winning streak.

If ever an opponent was going to give you mental demons, Teixeira would be the man.

In many ways, however, Te Huna’s come-from-behind February victory over Canadian Ryan Jimmo in London is the defining moment of his career. For Te Huna, the biggest battle was not surviving a brutal Jimmo head kick – nor the fight to regain his senses and win. The biggest battle was training his mind to think like a champion … a fight he admits he lost.

”The last two weeks before that fight, I was in a bad environment, just thinking too many things at once and thinking negative thoughts,” Te Huna said at the MGM Grand on Friday. ”Before that fight happened, I thought I was going to go out there, get head kicked, get knocked out and lose the fight. That’s how I was feeling.”

So tense was Te Huna before the Jimmo fight, that his team came up with a novel approach to help calm his nerves as he made his way out to the octagon – a choreographed walk-out in which his entire team dressed and danced to the Men in Black theme song.

”That dance just helped clear my head. It was just to try to get me to enjoy it – that walk out is pretty daunting, mate. It definitely helped me relax and it showed in the fight.”

Head kicks aside, that is. Because those negative thoughts came true in the Jimmo fight, with only his amazing durability and ability to regain his senses quickly preventing him from losing via technical knockout in the first round.

While a choreographed walk-out seems on the cards at UFC 160 – ”Can’t say mate, stay tuned” was Te Huna’s grinning response to the possibility of a new dance – there was little doubt he was going to need a little extra help getting his head in the right space to beat a fighter of Teixeira’s quality.

Cue Green, a fighter whose mental strength is unquestioned, and someone who has fought on the big stage many times.

The pair engaged in some spirited workouts and sparring sessions, but Green says it was the mental side of things where he has helped Te Huna most.

”He’s a world-class professional fighter, and I guess I just keep reminding him of that, because he’s pretty humble, quiet kid. Quietly confident, though,” Green says. ”I’ve been asked to come in and help him with my experience in the big-fight occasion, for it to rub off. I’ve just been trying to give him a bit of guidance, passing off what I’ve done in my career and … hopefully guide him to not do the negative things that have happened in some of my camps. Just my big-fight experience, hopefully it rubs off on him, because that’s where he’s at now.

”Once he gets through Teixeira and a few more opponents, he could be staring down the barrel of a world title, so it’s a big occasion and he’s handling it very well.”

The benefit of Green’s experience has worked wonders. Gone are the nerves that characterised Te Huna in the lead-up to his most recent UFC appearances, replaced with the calm confidence of a future world champion.

”He [Green] has made my mental game very strong. He’s a powerful guy upstairs – he’s been telling me how to approach my sessions throughout the whole camp, and it’s taken me to another level,” he says. ”A strong mind game is probably the most powerful tool you can have coming into the fight, and he’s just put that [into my game].”

In talking about Teixeira, Te Huna is respectful – but consuming his thoughts is the game plan he and his team believe will deliver victory. ”I wanted the match. A lot of people forget about it, you know? They say, ‘You don’t think Teixeira is too much for you?’ No, I wanted the match and I’m pretty confident we can get a win.”

Daniel Sankey travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of UFC.

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Sheedy hopes Eagles star’s homecoming will tempt Giants fans

Giants coach Kevin Sheedy is hoping the chance to see western Sydney boy Nic Naitanui play for West Coast on Saturday will draw a decent crowd when the sides meet at Skoda Stadium.
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It is the Giants’ first match at their home ground since only 5830 saw them get thumped there by Adelaide on May 12. ”We’re hoping for the best crowd we can get,” Sheedy said.

”We’re going to have a really good game. We know that they’re a very good side, obviously. But in two of the last three weeks we’ve played pretty good footy against Essendon and Hawthorn and they’re both up the top, with West Coast.

”We didn’t handle the Adelaide game very well. But in general, we want to put our best effort forward and get our fans out here.”

Crowds have hovered around 10,000 and the Giants are hoping for clear weather to encourage fans to go. While Sheedy talked up Giants forward Jeremy Cameron as a future star, he also promoted Eagles’ ruckman Naitanui as a big drawcard.

”You won’t get to see Nic Naitanui too often in your life,” he said. ”A young player born in Penrith coming back in for the West Coast. It’s a good story for us, even though he’s not playing for the Giants. He’s a local kid who actually … grew up out in the west.

”When you see guys like him and Izzy Folau now playing for the Wallabies, and some of the great soccer players that have played, there’s a lot of talent in the west that the Giants have really got to get hold of over the next decade. I think a lot of people in Australia and the AFL don’t realise the talent pool … is absolutely fantastic.

”That’s why we’re here. We’ve got to make sure we get our fair share of that talent. And when you see one of the boys that have been born in the west, like Nic, come back here and dominate in the ruck and be a superstar in the AFL, it’s a great story for AFL in the future.”

Eagles coach John Worsfold said Naitanui wanted the code to take off across Sydney. ”Nic’s really appreciative of the opportunities footy’s given him throughout his life and he’d like to see those same opportunities for more people across Australia, but definitely out here in the west,” Worsfold said.

A particular focus for the Giants will be to finish strongly. Sheedy said recent performances against Essendon and Hawthorn had been encouraging, though ”the scoreline at half-time could have been better” in the eventual 83-point loss to the Hawks.

An exciting inclusion is Matt Buntine, who will play his first senior match since being severely injured in a pre-season cup game.

Sheedy described Buntine as pretty strong, a very good team man and ”itching to get out there”. He also discussed his increased role in recruitment at the Giants, saying the club needed a key forward, key defender and key ruckman. He said money had been freed after the club missed out on signing Kurt Tippett and the departure of Folau.

Worsfold said Saturday’s game was an important step in the Eagles’ efforts to make up for their slow start to the season. ”We lost a few early … but we’re starting to build some better form and momentum,” he said.

”So we’ve got to make sure we play better footy week by week.”

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Homebaked cookies in council crackdown

Pam Thomas, who runs Ma Belle Patisserie at Broadmeadow, started her business by baking at home. She said food preparation standards required things like stainless steel surfaces that were beyond the means of most home cooks. The fees could spell the end for some homebaked food stalls.
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GRANNIES who sell home-made cakes, biscuits and jams could have their kitchens scrutinised by compliance officers under a draft proposal by Newcastle City Council.

About 200 ‘‘small-scale’’ non-retail food premises – mainly home and hobby cooks – would pay $429 for the privilege of an annual inspection.

The council expects to improve its bottom line by $53,000 by cutting back on inspections of low-risk hairdressing salons and instead focusing on the small-scale food operations.

A report for Tuesday’s council meeting says the council wants to apply to the NSW Food Authority to expand its role.

‘‘Small-scale food manufacturing can occur in environments such as private homes, where measures to minimise food safety impacts are not as robust as in commercial environments,’’ the report said.

‘‘In addition, food business operators and food handlers may be conducting the activity as a hobby, and may not have the same level of skills, knowledge and experience as food handlers in other industry sectors.’’

The move has shocked hobby cooks. The Newcastle Herald has spoke to several yesterday who said they were ‘‘meticulous’’ and complained about the proposal. None wanted to alert the council to their operation by being named.

Pam Thomas, who runs Ma Belle Patisserie at Broadmeadow, started her business by baking at home.

She said food preparation standards required things like stainless steel surfaces that were beyond the means of most home cooks.

‘‘We need to support people to be able to [cook at home] because that’s how a lot of businesses start,’’ Ms Thomas said.

‘‘Those people also need to be aware that they need to toe the like and do the right thing [with regard to food safety]’’.

Ms Thomas said the fees for inspections were too expensive.

Deputy lord mayor Brad Luke described the proposal as a ‘‘grab for fees’’.

‘‘The idea of charging a fee to inspect grandma’s kitchen when she’s selling something at the local fete reminds me of George Orwell’s Big Brother,’’ Cr Luke said.

‘‘The next thing will be … council coming around while people cook their dinner.’’

The council report said increased regulation would ensure that food sold at local events meets public safety standards.

‘‘Feedback from the community indicates an increased demand for food products from a home manufacturing environment,’’ the report said.

‘‘This increased demand has been accompanied by increased community concern regarding the safety of such food.’’