Stephen Dank, the man at the centre of the Essendon supplements scandal, insists the players knew what they had been administered and has described the club’s internal report into his injecting program as ''absolute rubbish''.
As tensions rise amid the fall-out of a saga that threatens to hijack a second straight AFL season, Dank insisted the players had not been duped in his 2011-12 peptides program.
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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)
‘‘I would say it would be very unusual for the players to say they didn’t know what they were taking,’’ Dank said on Tuesday. ‘‘I think that, in my personal opinion, they not only knew what they were taking but they understood what they were taking. The reasons for why I say that, again, will be discussed in the appropriate forum.’’
The 34 show-cause notices issued by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to current and former Bombers alleges they were given the banned drug thymosin beta-4.
The players are of the belief they were given nothing illegal during the peptides program in 2011-12 but, if they had been, it was because they had been duped.
Most of the players signed consent forms in early 2012 allowing for the program to proceed, but only after they learnt some had been given the anti-obesity drug, AOD-9604.
Dank, who says he would not do anything differently if he had his time again, would not reveal what substances he had given the players.
‘‘Obviously, I can’t because of impending court action,’’ he said, refusing to be specific about the alleged use of thymosin beta-4.
‘‘This is why I need to take this to a more formal judicial forum. My point of view is that the burden of proof really needs to be on ASADA to prove that we have done something wrong, and the reality is we haven’t. I am not going to sit by and have to defend myself from cheap shots. I am prepared to take these guys on in court where the burden, of course, will be on them to produce the evidence.’’
Players were warned about the possible side-effects of the 16 drugs listed in the AFL charge sheet that they may have been administered during interviews with ASADA and the AFL last year.
‘‘With all due respect, they [ASADA] don’t have categoric evidence,’’ Dank said.
Dank said there had been a ‘‘clear breach of what ASADA is supposed to do’’ as the names of players, the club and drugs had been made public.
Speaking on Adelaide radio, Dank also took aim at the internal club report conducted by Ziggy Switkowski under then Bombers chairman David Evans.
Switkowski noted: ‘‘In particular the rapid diversification into exotic supplements, sharp increase in frequency of injections, the shift to treatment off site in alternative medical clinics, emergence of unfamiliar suppliers, marginalisation of traditional medical staff etc combine to create a disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged or documented within the club or in the period under review."
Dank, who was not interviewed for that report, suggested legal action could be taken against the document, which he claimed consulted only a ‘‘finite’’ group of people.
‘‘To be honest, I thought that was absolute rubbish. Obviously, I believe that was quite contrary to what really did happen ... again, we will deal with our view on the report again at the appropriate time in the appropriate forum.’’
Dank said he was not the only person at the club at the time to know what had been administered to the players.
He would not say whether former Essendon fitness boss Dean Robinson, who is suing the Bombers for unfair dismissal, knew what was on the injecting list.
Dank has been issued with a show-cause notice by ASADA but has not been interviewed by the anti-drugs body.
‘‘All I have said is everybody hasn’t followed the rules, everybody hasn’t followed it by the book. That’s OK but I am not going to go down that road,’’ he said.
‘‘As I have said all along, none of us have done anything wrong. There was nothing done contrary to the WADA code and I think when truth is on your side and you know what you have done you just know you have to roll up your sleeves and just last for the long haul.’’