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Don coaches in the gun as parents seek answers

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Dank: 'I've done nothing wrong'

Steve Dank, who worked for Essendon in 2012, says club officials were 'collectively involved' in the program that saw players injected with supplements.

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MEMBERS of the Essendon staff were consuming supplements that would have been illegal for their players to take under the world anti-doping code, according to the club's former sports science chief.

Stephen Dank, the man at the centre of an investigation into the club's possible use of banned substances, has claimed the players were injected with nothing more than vitamins, and not given any illegal products, with or without their consent.

He said the program involved ''detailed discussion'' with coach James Hird and other members of the club's coaching and medical staff, and that everything the players were given was logged on the club's intranet site.

Tim Watson and wife, Susie, parents of Essendon captain Jobe Watson, arrive for a meeting with management at Windy Hill.

Tim Watson and wife, Susie, parents of Essendon captain Jobe Watson, arrive for a meeting with management at Windy Hill. Photo: Joe Armao

As he was speaking the parents of Essendon players were listening to the club's explanation. Parents were tight-lipped as they entered the administration department, with one mother, who wished to remain anonymous, saying she was ''hopeful'' of some answers.

Dank also claimed that after being interviewed by the Australian Crime Commission last September, before he was sacked by Essendon, he had satisfied investigators that he had not breached any rules.

''They were obviously quite happy with what I had discussed with them, and I figured that must have been consistent with whatever information they had. And they indicated to me they were happy with that information,'' said Dank.

''They said they didn't think I had done anything wrong.''

Dank, speaking on the ABC's 7.30, said he would often consult with Essendon players while a coach was present, and that they, club doctor Bruce Reid and suspended conditioning coach Dean Robinson were fully informed of the program.

He said some of the coaches - who are not bound by the World Anti-Doping Agency code - were taking supplements that would have been illegal for the players to take.

''Look, there were some differences in what we offered the coaches. Let's face it, the coaches themselves are not subjected to any WADA code. Off the top of my head three, four or five were taking vitamin supplements, protein supplements,'' he said.

''To be perfectly honest a couple of coaches were using supplements that were a little bit outside the WADA code but again, they were entitled to it and [there was] nothing illegal in those.''

Dank, whose work with rugby league club Manly has also been questioned, denied players were delivered intravenous peptides, and were in fact injected with vitamin B and D, both compliant with the code on performance-enhancing drugs.

He drew a clear line between his work with anti-ageing clinics and his work for Essendon, saying it was no different to a situation ''where a club doctor in his medical bag will carry certain things which will of course be prohibited in a sporting sense but they can use it in a therapeutic setting''.

Dank also said Essendon's players were fully informed throughout last season of the substances they were taking, and that the consent forms they signed reaffirmed their understanding of the program.

''Often at early times, particularly in the early stages, we'd get them to reaffirm what they were taking and what they were doing … there was a lot of discussion with the players on that,'' he said.

With BRENT DIAMOND

79 comments

  • Why should Hirdy be in the gun when Vlad was asleep at the wheel despite earning $$Millions$$. This makes me feel sick

    Commenter
    Bomber
    Location
    Essendon
    Date and time
    February 12, 2013, 7:16AM
    • Hirdy is paid heaps too.

      And he's not very bright. Just a clever footballer.

      Commenter
      HiLo
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 8:01AM
    • @HiLo, How on earth do you know how smart Hird is? Given that he has an engineering degree, you would assume he is pretty bright. Are you saying this because he was a footballer?

      Commenter
      MarkM
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 9:00AM
    • I feel sorry for the dons supporters and think that there's been way to much mud slung at the club and staff without hard evidence becuase of slow news weeks.... how about we all let this play out and then make your judgements before making vile one eyed opnions on a topic most (if not all) of you know nothing about... Go swannies 2013!

      Commenter
      johnson
      Location
      syd
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 9:09AM
    • I'm surprised that anyone goes to watch dreary AFL anymore. A cross between basketball, rugby league and keepings off, we now find out they're all on the go fast gear. Time for a new interest during winter time.

      Commenter
      cape republic
      Location
      jagajaga
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 9:47AM
    • @MarkM.
      Get that chip of your shoulder mate. If Hird was intelligent he would not have gone along with any of this from the start. Not just 'own up' and take full responsibility when it looks as if its going to get out to the press in the vain hope that such a display means he comes out with more integrity. INtegrity would have been him saying at the begining "I do not support this and if you continue I believe this will harm the club. And therefore I would have to resign'. Any dope can get a degree - all that displays is an ability to memorise a book and regurgitate it for an exam. But integrity, the real test of any human and when to display it takes real intelligence. What is even more amazing is that after all the lessons across many sports and industries, that those in charge actually believed they could get away with this and that at some stage, somewhere it wouldn't get out into the media and the general public. Or did you also know MarkM and like many others 'turned a blind eye for the good of the sport'.

      Commenter
      Andrew
      Location
      Elsternwick
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 10:45AM
    • @MarkM, I think you need to take a bit of your own advice champ. Taking time out of your day to take shots at someone you dont know, about something you obviously know nothing about shows you have a pretty big chip of your own!
      As for trying to 'get away' with things, what have they tried to get away with sport?
      In all the papers, In all the articles, all the news reports there has not been one single piece of evidence that anyone has broken the rules!

      Commenter
      sickofpeanuts
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 12:40PM
  • Well that's it everyone. It was the coaches who were taking performance enhancing drugs. Not the players. Forget all that unnatural growth over one summer, and forget the flying start to a season by a list considered mid-level at best. That was all a result of the 'vitamins' that were 'injected' into the players at 'secret' locations after 'waivers' were signed. Yep, nothing to see here, moving on...

    Commenter
    Joe Citizen
    Location
    La La Land
    Date and time
    February 12, 2013, 7:16AM
    • Funny how there were no 'unnatural growth' claims last year. A little bit revisionist - methinks.

      Commenter
      Rdefcon1
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 8:36AM
    • Joe, if you'd actually watched Stephen Dank's interview on ABC, he said players were given legal proteins containing legal peptides, hence the growth over summer.

      Also, why should a flying start come under anymore scrutiny than a flying finish. Didn't North Melbourne win something like 8 from their last 9 games to make a final? I'm not questioning North, but sometimes teams just play well, and the fact that Essendon had an easy draw for the first half of the season.

      Also, I can also make things seem suspicious by putting things in inverted commas, 'Joe Citizen', but doesn't mean they really are.

      Commenter
      John
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 8:42AM

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