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Dank threatens legal action against AFL's Harcourt

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Dank frustrated over lack of anonymity

ASADA should have kept the drugs and persons involved in their investigation under full anonymity according to sports scientist Stephen Dank. (Audio: FIVEaa)

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While the AFL insists Peter Harcourt has not broken any contractual arrangement, former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank says he is seriously considering legal action against the league's medical director.

As court orders were filed by James Hird and the Bombers with the Federal Court on Tuesday, AFL chief Gillon McLachlan revealed the AFL had sought legal advice over comments made by Harcourt in Zurich, which the Hird and Essendon camps had suggested could be in breach of the anti-disparagement clauses inserted into settlement agreements between the parties last year.

McLachlan, however, said Harcourt's claims that there had been "craziness, or the madness who were in the [Essendon] support staff" during the club's 2011-12 supplements program had not broken any agreement.

Gillon McLachlan

Gillon McLachlan Photo: Joe Armao

"My personal view is no. My legal advice is absolutely definitively no and I don't know if I could be any clearer than that," he said.

Dank, speaking on Adelaide radio, later revealed he had been unimpressed by Harcourt's remarks.

"I didn't receive it very, very well and my barristers received it even less well. Let's just say that obviously my barristers are reviewing our position on his public comments very, very strongly as we speak. I was aware that he was appearing at that particular conference," Dank said.

Gillon McLachlan has backed Dr Peter Harcourt (far right)

Gillon McLachlan has backed Dr Peter Harcourt (far right) Photo: Pat Scala

"I was aware of that before he appeared, I was aware that he actually did appear. The actual comments that he made I wasn't aware of. I think it's pretty fair to say that both myself and the defamation barristers have looked at those comments with a very, very dim view."

Dank, the man at the centre of the scandal, alleged, overall, there had been "a lot of questionable conduct in this whole investigation, I mean seriously questionable conduct" by the AFL.

McLachlan claims the court case between Essendon, Hird and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is a distraction and "side element", declaring the main issue is the health and welfare of the players.

While lawyers for Essendon and Hird seek documents alleging an unlawful investigation was conducted by the AFL and ASADA - show-cause notices have been distributed to 34 players - McLachlan said the league would not be a party to the court-case "distractions".

"I have said this regularly ... I have been as transparent and as clear as I can with our supporters that I am not going to provide a running commentary," he said.

"There is a legal dispute between Essendon and ASADA. People are trying to draw us in, every single day there is something I could respond to, or the AFL could respond to. But I am not going to do that because we have a football competition to run. The supporters, I think, of all 18 clubs, not just the 17 other clubs, all 18 clubs want us to think about playing football.

"They are sick of it. They are sick of all the distractions and the side elements and everything else and right now I am not going to continue to get drawn in.

"One day I will have my say. I will [answer] the questions and I will stay until every single person of you is bored and wants to go and get some lunch.

"Until then, we are going to try and concentrate on running this football competition and let the legal process run out. Everyone keep thinking what this is actually about - the health and welfare and safety of those Essendon players, and run a football competition."

In court orders filed by Hird and the Bombers on Tuesday, they re-iterate their claim to documents from ASADA relating to the AFL investigation showing "the support or otherwise for the conduct of a joint investigation by the AFL and ASADA; and the power of ASADA to conduct a joint investigation".

They also want any documents which may point to ASADA's interim report being released in draft form before it was officially unveiled on August 2 last year. This report led to sanctions against Hird, former football chief Danny Corcoran and the Bombers for governance failures.

Essendon did not wish to comment on Tuesday night.

Speaking after the launch of the autobiography - The Phoenix Rises - of former AFL chief executive Ross Oakley, McLachlan said Harcourt had the league's unequivocal support but had been wounded by the disclosure of his comments made at a conference in November. He had also claimed there that players involved in the rogue injecting program could face cancer or hormonal issues. 

"The presentation was signed off. I think it's been articulated that he put some, I guess, flourish on that. Maybe in the context of today [that] might ... have caused a couple of days of headlines," McLachlan said.

"But everything he said there was generally on the public record and that presentation in its substantive form was signed off."

Harcourt was criticised by the Bombers and the AFL Players Association over his strong comments. 

"He no doubt has been wounded personally by the last couple of days but he has had support from everyone that I think he counts as important in the industry," McLachlan said.

"We prefer that it didn't happen but if you focus on what he was doing, it was all about the health and welfare and safety of the players, which is his responsibility as the chief medical officer of the AFL."

The Bombers maintain the players were given nothing illegal. The players are of the belief they were not administered anything illegal. The show-cause notices allege the players were given the banned peptide, thymosin beta-4.

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Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
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Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
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HAW 127 vs WBU 57 13:10AS
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 15:20SS
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs MEL 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 11:10NZ
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GWS vs GCF 17:40SO
PTA vs HAW 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE vs SYD 20:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:10G
GEE vs NTH 15:20SS
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Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
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SYD vs WBU 14:10SCG
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Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
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NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
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GCF vs COL 16:35MS
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Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 11
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GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
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ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
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Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
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RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
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WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
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ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
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ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
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HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
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Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
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ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
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MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
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GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
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CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
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ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
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COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
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WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
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ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
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WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
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NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
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GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
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STK vs SYD 15:20ES
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
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RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
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AFL 2015
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Adelaide Crows 3 3 0 0 171.27 12
Sydney Swans 3 3 0 0 141.75 12
Fremantle 3 3 0 0 138.76 12
Hawthorn 3 2 1 0 166.33 8
Richmond 3 2 1 0 139.37 8
Collingwood 3 2 1 0 125.65 8
GWS Giants 3 2 1 0 113.47 8
Essendon 3 2 1 0 104.74 8
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