Essendon probe 'potentially the biggest football story of all time'
How big could the Essendon drugs probebe? Jon Pierik and Greg Baum dissect what could potentially be "the biggest football story of all time".PT3M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dy0b 620 349 February 6, 2013
STEPHEN Dank, the man at the centre of the Essendon drugs investigation, was ''very concerned'' about the testosterone and growth hormone levels of his players when he approached a Melbourne doctor for advice last year.
Dank, who is reportedly the subject of a Federal Police investigation about illegal drugs – a claim a police spokesman denied on Wednesday night – did not return calls or texts from Fairfax Media.
Doctor Robin Willcourt, who runs the Epigenx Integrated Medicine practice at South Yarra's Como Centre, revealed Dank, then Essendon's sports scientist, and controversial fitness boss Dean Robinson met him in a year in which the Bombers had dealt with more than 20 soft-tissue injuries.
Stephen Dank. Photo: Tim Clayton
Dank discussed the supplements his players were taking, including a Chinese herbal product, ginkgo biloba, which can have side-effects that include headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, gas and diarrhoea.
''That's the stuff that is meant to smack your brain up a little bit. A lot of people take it as a supplement, to make your brain work better, [have] clearer thinking. It's an anti-oxidant,'' Willcourt told Fairfax.
''He [Dank] was talking about all the supplements they were taking. By the way, none of them were illegal. He was talking about bovine colostrum and amino acids and various combinations to make protein shakes, all that sort of stuff.''
Bovine colostrum, however, contains a growth factor called IGF-1, which is on the banned substances list of the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Another supplement allegedly taken by Essendon players was tribulus, an extract claimed to increase the body's natural testosterone. ''He then asked me would I be happy to look at the blood results from the players, and I did,'' Willcourt said.
''I made comments along the way: 'This guy's testosterone really sucks, he is going to get hurt, this guy's growth hormone is really low, it is not going to repair itself when he gets injured' ... We went down the list of the various players. But I never got to see the players.
''We had a discussion about what we could or couldn't do and one of the things that we couldn't do was use peptides, we couldn't do testosterone, we couldn't do growth hormone, and there was a lot of hand-wringing going on about how we could make these guys healthy without violating the rules. There isn't an answer to that one. Could Steve Dank have been doing things I don't know about? Yes. But I am not accusing him of doing anything. I have no proof. He came over here and acted very concerned when he realised there was nothing we could do.''
Players were asked to sign waivers before taking supplements, although one former employee insists nothing illegal was ingested by injection or orally.
An AFL and Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority probe will examine whether the Bombers were injected with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, including peptides, outside of the club last year.
There are various types of peptides, including those that promote muscle growth. There are some that are legal.
Dank was removed from the club last year and Robinson, who has engaged a lawyer from the AFL Coaches Association, has been suspended.