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D-day looms for Stephen Dank

After 12 months of investigations, Stephen Dank will be formally accused by ASADA of committing more than 30 anti-doping rule violations.

After 12 months of investigations, Stephen Dank will be formally accused by ASADA of committing more than 30 anti-doping rule violations. Photo: Getty Images

With an expert panel of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to meet on Thursday, Stephen Dank’s name is set to be entered on the register of findings – a critical development that could have serious ramifications in the AFL.

While Fairfax Media understands ASADA’s seven-member Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel has other items on its agenda, including matters in other sports, Dank’s decision not to respond to a ''show cause'' notice issued by authorities last month is now an outstanding issue for deliberation.

After an investigation over more than 12 months, ASADA has formally accused the biochemist who has worked for several AFL and NRL clubs of committing more than 30 anti-doping rule violations. The next steps, given Dank has not provided the national anti-doping body with reasons why he should not be pursued, is the independent review of ASADA’s case – the rule violation panel exists for this purpose – and further down the track, the issuing of a sanction.

In any case pursued by ASADA, it is the panel which decides whether the evidence collected is compelling enough to register athletes, or athlete support personnel, onto the register of findings for a suspected anti-doping rule violation or violations.

Former ASADA boss Richard Ings is among those predicting the panel will move swiftly on Dank’s register of findings entry provided there have been no substantial developments in the case.

But even if the panel, chaired by Professor Andrew McLachlan, agrees to place Dank on the register of findings, it is unlikely he will be informed for some days.

While the detail of the anti-doping rule breaches ASADA levelled at Dank in writing last month is unclear, Fairfax Media understands that two AFL clubs – Essendon and Gold Coast – were referenced in his ''show cause'' notice.

Critical, in terms of the potential ramifications for Essendon and the Suns, which both employed Dank, is whether ASADA has accused the sports scientist of administering prohibited substances because the charge would implicate athletes – in this case AFL footballers.

Classified in the eyes of ASADA as ''support personnel'' when he worked at Essendon and the Gold Coast, Dank was bound to rules relating to the administration, attempted administration, trafficking, attempted trafficking, and possession of substances that are prohibited for athletes under World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

''Support personnel'' can also be sanctioned for assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up, or any other type of complicity that involves an anti-doping rule violation or an attempted anti-doping rule violation.

Other than confirm he received a ''show cause'' notice, and that he has no intention of co-operating with ASADA, Dank has not elaborated on precisely what ASADA has charged him for. Dank’s lawyer, Greg Stanton, did not return calls from Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

ASADA, meanwhile, deferred questions about the ADRVP to the Department of Health, which said, in a written reponse, that ''the deliberations and timing of ADRVP meetings are confidential and outcomes are not publicly disclosed''. 

Once an individual is listed on ASADA's register of findings, they are typically issued with an infraction notice from the administration of the relevant sporting body. In this case, given the alleged anti-doping rule breaches ASADA has outlined to Dank, it's expected that would involve the AFL.

While an entry on the register of findings can be challenged, in Australia, through an Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Dank maintains he would only fight any charges from ASADA in the Federal Court. Sanctions for anti-doping rule violations can also be appealed through separate hearing processes that are often lengthy and costly.

10 comments so far

  • Please make it stop.

    Commenter
    Rod
    Date and time
    April 10, 2014, 12:05AM
    • where's WorkSafe in all of this? If essendon was a trucking company WorkSafe would have shut them down two years ago! Talk about rules for one.

      No wonder noone os going to the football

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 7:31AM
    • It's so obvious this won't stop until Dank has ASADA in court. Until then he will give them nothing ... in the words of Paul Keating, he wants to do them slowly.

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 11:48AM
  • Lets get everything out in the open, in a public hearing, potentially in the courts. This will clear the air once and for all and make all parties accountable.@ Rod - I agree,

    Commenter
    Good
    Date and time
    April 10, 2014, 5:58AM
    • Someone should ask Tanya Hird if she has anything else to say....

      Commenter
      GO bombers - Just go!
      Date and time
      April 10, 2014, 8:23AM
      • That medical report released a few weeks ago was in no doubt that doping occurred at Essendon. How stupid is it going to look if Dank is sanctioned for doping players, and no players are sanctioned for doping?

        Commenter
        Nick
        Date and time
        April 10, 2014, 8:41AM
        • D Day is approaching for the authorities that have left this situation go on for too long, if they have any concrete proof that Dank acted illegally, charge him, and get this matter to its conclusion. Seems there a lot of talk and little positive action.

          Commenter
          Say It Again
          Location
          Vermont South
          Date and time
          April 10, 2014, 9:56AM
          • Ross Lyon said ahead of the clash with Essendon this week.."they are playing well but golly they certainly look big, strong and fit don't they?"

            Mmm...what are you implying Ross.

            I just wish they'd leave poor Mr Dank alone, he obviously know more about peptides than anyone in the world...Not sure why he isn't head of WADA yet.
            He was only brought to Essendon to help with their Muscular Dystrophy and Aids issues...he deserves one of Tony's new knighthoods

            Commenter
            Makesyouwonder
            Date and time
            April 10, 2014, 10:25AM
            • Do we still have to endure this charade ??

              The whole thing should have been wrapped up a year ago. You media folk are getting some real millage out of it. None of us could give a stuff now. The whole system is a joke designed to protect famous names, at the expense of morals.

              Commenter
              Ho hum
              Date and time
              April 10, 2014, 5:11PM
              • If he is innocent then start start speaking dank one!

                Commenter
                Dan
                Date and time
                April 10, 2014, 7:55PM

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