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Steve Dank interviewed on 7:30


7.30: Hello Steve. Please take a seat.

Dank: Thank you.

Last week most Australians had no idea who this man was. Yet today, Steve Dank is the man everyone is waiting to hear from.

7.30: We’ll get started.

7.30: Steve I will put to you firstly, you’ve been describe over previous days among other things as ‘the suited physiologist’ and ‘the pharmacist’. Who exactly are you?

Dank: Well I am a scientist, so biochemist by trade. Over the past few years I have been working more in biochemistry. My PhD right now to be submitted is in pharmacology.

Steve Dank is at the centre of the furore that erupted last week, when officials at AFL club Essendon called a surprise press conference announcing they had reported themselves to governing body ASADA.

Essendon management cited a supplements regime administered to its players in 2012 – the very year Steve Dank was in charge.

Today Steve Dank has decided it’s his turn to talk – and he’s not going down quietly.

 7.30: were Essendon officials then in the dark as they have claimed?

Dank: In terms of the program? No.

7.30: the supplements regime devised for the Essendon players. It terms of information you shared with Essendon officials and management and coaching staff, was everyone aware of what was involved in that regime?

Dank: Yes yes.

7.30: From the coach to management?

Dank: Yes. yeah I mean there were sometimes when a player would be with me in consultation or coach would be present so the coaches were well aware of what was happening.

Last week, Essendon officials and coach James Hird said they had only just learnt about concerns regarding the supplements being given to players.

But Steve Danks says he didn’t work alone, and that coach James Hird was at the epicentre of the program, along with high performance manager Dean Robinson.

Danks: There was a collective involvement you know it wasnt just Steve Dank. There was certainly input from people outside myself. There was a very significant involvement from Dean as the high performance manager, there was detailed discussion with James Hird, there was detailed discusison with the club doctor.

7.30: So who else specifically was aware let’s speak about this in factual terms, so Dean Robinson?

Dank: Dean Robinson, James Hird, the club doctor Bruce Reid. Um, they were sort of the main people involved in the knowledge of the program.

Steve Dank’s background in elite football didn’t begin at Essendon or with the AFL.

It began in the NRL.

Over the past two decades, Dank has consulted to five NRL teams including a premiership stint with Manly from 2004 to 2010.

In 2008 questions were raised about Dank’s practices at Manly alongside coach Des Hasler – and whether their boundary-pushing techniques were fully within the rules.

7.30:  Much has been rumoured about your time with many, injections of calves blood, peptides being used, rumour of substances administered intravenously. It was highly secretive. What did you do there?

Dank: Well I don’t know it was highly secretive except from the point of view des liked to keep everything protected. We used a lot of supplements to be honest no different to any club, vitamins, protein powders, amino acids. Um. We used calves blood there during the time but that was no different to what else was around and appropriate to sport at the time.

7.30: So nothing fell over the line or over the edge?

Dank: No, no

Steve Dank left Manly in 2010. The following year he was invited to join Essendon by the club’s sports performance manager, Dean Robinson.

7.30: What were you asked to do? what was the plan with Essendon?

Dank: Essentially as a sports scientist so obviously to you know put science into the program to support dean and the strength and conditioning staff. Part of that did involve a supplement program obviously which we tried to make a little bit more specific to the requirements of AFL.

A key question is whether Essendon players were aware of exactly what supplements they were being injected with.

Yesterday the deputy CEO of the AFL, Gillon McLachlan announced that the Essendon players knew nothing.

It’s an allegation Steve Dank denies.

He says before the supplements regime began, all Essendon players were asked to sign consent forms.

7.30: Alongside consent forms were players fully informed of what they were to be administered?

Dank: Yes yes. And often at early times particularly in the early stages we’d get them to reaffirm what they were taking and what they were doing, yep. And so there was a lot of discussion with the players on that.

7.30: how does your answer sit with the fact that former Essendon players have now spoken publicly regarding the fact that they were completely unaware of what they were being given?

Dank:  Mmm certainly very surprised very surprise. Certainly very, very surprised considering the amount of discussion we had with the players.

7.30: So which version of the story is correct?

Dank: Well obviously I say my version of the story is correct. You know we certainly spent a lot of time and even as the season progressed we certainly still kept that dialogue going quite strongly.

7.30: Did you inject any Essendon players with a prohibited substance?

Dank: No.

7.30: What did you inject essendon players with?

Dank: Oh look they had intravenous injections for vitamin B and vitamin C which are quite compliant with the WADA code.

7.30: WHAT else were essendon players injected with?

Dank: Nothing else intravenously.

7.30: How then were peptides applied because there is a suggestion peptides were applied intravenously?

Dank: No there was no intravenous application of peptides whatsoever.

7.30:  How then were they applied?

Dank: I wont go through the specifics of the whole program.

7.30:  So how many peptides were used?

Dank: Well look to be honest peptides is a fairly broad term, even within the protein powders themselves there could have been between 3 to 4 different peptides that were part of the ingredients by definition a peptide is anything that strings more than 2 amino acids together so certainly a lot of these formulations would have had various peptides but all very very legal and all within the constraints of WADA.

Based on the Australian Crime Commission’s report released last week, Steve Dank has been implicated in a possible breach of the WADA rules by administering supplements illegally

7.30: What is your response to that? Did you?

Dank: No.

7.30:  Explain to me how you didn’t.

Dank: Well we had a program, it was well documented, it was discussed at all levels throughout the club in terms of what the supplements were and the regime and dosages and what time of the day or week you know.

Dank says every supplement used on Essendon players was logged in a detailed electronic register kept on the club’s intranet.

And Essendon players weren’t the only club members on a supplements regime.

Coaches and staff were also on supplement regimes to enhance their performance.

Dank: Um 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.

7.30: How many coaches or Essendon staff outside the playing assembly were taking supplements?

Dank: Off the top of my head 3 4 or 5 taking vitamin supplements, protein supplements, um …

7.30: And were they taking supplements that are outside of the regulations and again they are entitled to do so because they aren’t playing they are not players?

Dank: Look to be perfectly honest a couple of coaches were using supplements that were  a little but outside the WADA code but again they were entitled to it and nothing illegal in those.

At the end of September 2012 – three days after Essendon’s final game of the season – Steve Dank was told by club management that his contract would not be renewed for 2013.

Behind the scenes, something far more serious was going on.

Steve Dank was being interviewed by the ACC.

Dank: 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.

7.30: How did the ACC indicate that, what were the words they used?

Dank: Oh they said they didn’t think I had done anything wrong

7.30: To confirm the acc told you personally they did not believe that you had done anything wrong?

7.30: Correct.

Last week 7:30’s investigations revealed the extent of Dank’s other commercial enterprises, including two medical rejuvenation clinics registered in Victoria and NSW.

Dank says his clinics are legitimate and completely separate to his work consulting to elite football teams.

7.30: Who are your patients? Are they athletes?

Dank: No. So for example we only deal in an anti ageing space or a rejuvenated space. Certainly no athletes frequent the clinic and we concentrate our work on the executive so the executive in the later years of their life, a patient a little bit obese, a patient with lethargy due to strenuous work period. So there’s a cascade of different reasons why patients come to the clinic.

7.30: 7:30 has taken a very thorough look at medical rejuvenation clinics presence online. The website where a wide variety of supplement are being sold. what are these supplements?

Dank: They’re peptides. They’re legal peptides. Basically most of the peptides are oriented towards enhancing growth hormone release.

There’s another peptide oriented towards proving the efficacy of testosterone efficacy.

7.30: You’ve just mentioned they’re all legal. I want to be very clear with this. Are any of the supplements or substances you sell through the medical rejuvenation clinic, are any prohibited?

Dank: No

7.30: Illegal?

Dank: No

7.30: Banned?

Dank: No.

But there’s one product on Dank’s website that stands out.

Last week 7:30 discovered that Dank’s medical rejuvenation clinics were selling a compound known as GHRP-6 or peptide 6.

It’s a supplement with similar properties to human growth hormone, and is banned by the Australian Anti Doping Authority of Australia. And drug testing won’t pick it up in urine samples – regulators here have no way of detecting it.

7.30: This is the very supplement rumoured to be at the heart of the Essendon scandal?

Dank: Yes yes

7.30: It’s a very curious link?

Dank: Well it’s probably only a curious link because I happened to be ah working at Essendon and them my other business interest happened to be selling it. But to be honest that’s no different to a situation where a club doctor you know in his a medical bag will carry certain things which will of course be prohibited in a sporting setting but they can use it in a therapeutic setting. So it’s fairly easy association to be made but under no circumstances what ghrp6 ever used at Essendon.

7.30: So  the medical rejuvenation clinic is a distinct entity that has no crossover with any of your consultancy work with football teams or Essendon?

Dank:  No.

It’s not just the substances Dank sells that have caught the attention of authorities.

In the wake of the Australian Crime Commission’s explosive report last week linking organised crime to elite sporting codes in Australia, 7:30 discovered that some of Dank’s business associates had their own alleged links to organised criminal elements.

7.30: It seems like two worlds colliding. To an outsider, I’ll put it to you like this.  Steve Dank on the one hand a highly experienced sports scientist highly qualified with a PhD on the way, and two co directors with links to outlaw motorcycle figures and underworld figures. It’s a very unlikely pairing.

Dank: Well again as I said there isn’t anything to substantiate any links to bikie gangs so from my point of view that isn’t the case.

7.30: Have they assured you there are no links?

Dank: Um well not really because there’s nothing to be assured. i just know there is no link.

In a press conference yesterday the deputy CEO of the AFL, Gillon McLachlan, made this announcement:

Today Essendon declined to respond on-camera, telling 7:30 there was an investigation underway already by the AFL and regulator ASADA.

Dank: I think any elite system pushes towards a boundary and I think it’d be fairly silly to think Essendon was the only club pushing the line. I don’t think ah, it’d be foolish to think Essendon were the only club that were looking at these sort of programs.

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all

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