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No ASADA action on Robinson

The high performance coach Essendon suspended for his role in the supplements program has so far avoided formal action from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Dean Robinson, who is suing the Bombers after resigning from the club 10 months ago, gave extensive evidence to ASADA investigators in numerous sittings last year.

Robinson was suspended by Essendon in February 2013 when the club effectively opened itself up to anti-doping authorities by self-reporting – a move current Bombers chairman Paul Little recently lamented.

But Fairfax Media can reveal that, unlike Stephen Dank – whom Essendon also employed to help run the supplements program for players – Robinson has not received a show-cause notice from the national sports anti-doping agency for his involvement.

Dank, who has refused to co-operate with ASADA, stands accused of committing more than 30 anti-doping rule violations while working in AFL clubs. His show-cause notification from ASADA four weeks ago relates to his work at Essendon and at the Gold Coast Suns. Robinson was also employed by the Suns before he was released from his contract in August 2011 to join the Bombers.

Robinson, now practising privately as a physiotherapist, remains committed to suing Essendon through the Victorian Supreme Court. That action could yet see subpoenaed an array of high-powered AFL figures – from former and current Essendon administrators, coaches and players, to outgoing AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and his successor, Gillon McLachlan.


David Galbally, QC, acting for Robinson, would not comment on Wednesday about the progress of his client’s legal case against Essendon, other to say it was being pursued. But Galbally was critical of a saga that has already claimed many scalps and could yet claim many more. ‘‘In my view ASADA has dragged their feet, and justice delayed is justice denied,’’ Galbally said.

‘‘Anyone who has had anything to do with this investigation has been poorly served by the delay.

‘‘I just think that it has taken far too long and I think that is grossly unfair. Grossly unfair.’’

While the AFL achieved its stated aim of dealing with Essendon before last year’s finals series – myriad sanctions for governance failings that led to the Bombers being banned from September action, coach James Hird suspended and financial sanctions imposed – ASADA’s anti-doping probe is incomplete.

ASADA never grants immunity from action over a suspected anti-doping rule violation, but in some cases the authority strategically delays taking action against key individuals.

This can be advantageous to ASADA in circumstances where an individual who has retired, or is no longer participating in sport, has the ability to substantially assist anti-doping authority investigators in their ongoing work.

ASADA, while yet to rule formally on AFL players or other athlete support personnel, hit Dank with a show-cause notice last month.

That move is widely expected to lead to his entry on ASADA’s Register of Findings, which would typically trigger an infraction notice, though it’s understood Dank is yet to be notified of his case progressing to that end.

Robinson is suing Essendon for what Galbally has previously described as the club’s ‘‘breaches of their duties towards him as an employee’’.

One aspect of Robinson’s legal claim is that he was blamed unfairly by Essendon for the supplements scandal. Another is that he has suffered considerable reputational damage as a consequence.

In a statement released by the Bombers last July, the club effectively blamed Robinson for bringing Dank to the club, saying: ‘‘Mr Dank was brought to the club at the insistence of Dean Robinson with whom he had worked previously.’’

After an extended interview with Robinson was aired last August, Essendon chief Little also described the high performance coach who was highly successful and popular at Geelong, when he worked for the Cats between 2006 and 2010, as ‘‘... a disgruntled, disaffected and discredited ex-employee.’’

At a directions hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court last December, Justice Robyn Lansdowne ordered mediation to begin in May and called for a further hearing in June.