- AFL was told of peptides inquiry
- Steve Dank: keeper of sports science secrets
- 'The Weapon' suspended as questions spread to other clubs
Essendon chiefs may have been forced to outline allegations players were secretly given mystery supplements after learning an ex-player had recorded a media interview on the issue.
I do get very nervous when they throw the innocent term 'supplement' out there - you don't call ASADA if you're dealing with a simple supplement.
Former Essendon great Tim Watson on Wednesday morning said "it's possible" that the AFL and the Bombers were compelled to call a press conference on Tuesday to confront the revelations.
Essendon great Tim Watson, pictured left with former Bombers coach Kevin Sheedy, said he would be 'devastated' if his son Jobe was stripped of his Brownlow Medal as a result of the investigation. Photo: Getty
It comes as former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority head Richard Ings said that if he was associated with an AFL club, he would not have hired Steven Dank, the former Essendon sports science head.
"Sport is all about integrity. It's not just the actual integrity but the perception of integrity and these are types of programs which simply push the boundaries; they push the limits and it's really up to clubs to do their own due diligence about the people they're employing," Ings told radio station SEN.
It is believed that the supplements referred to are peptides administered by injection. Peptides are a compound made up of amino-acid molecules.
'Wouldn't have hired him' ... Steve Dank at Manly training. Photo: Tim Clayton
Ings said on Wednesday that his assessment of Dank was based on a period when Dank worked at the Manly NRL club.
He said of an ASADA investigation into calf blood treatment – where Manly players had a supplement containing calves' blood injected – "it did highlight a tendency by some clubs to push the boundaries and take risks and it would appear that risks have been taken in this particular case [involving Essendon]".
"I do get very nervous when they throw the innocent term 'supplement' out there - you don't call ASADA if you're dealing with a simple supplement," he said.
James Hird, right, fronts the media on Tuesday. Photo: Wayne Taylor
The club has suspended its former head of conditioning Dean Robinson. Dank worked under Robinson.
Watson, an SEN presenter and a sports presenter on Channel Nine's rival, Channel Seven, said it was possible that Essendon had "got wind" of Nine's interview with former player Kyle Reimers, which aired on Tuesday. In that interview, Reimers said that the club knew it was pushing the boundaries with its fitness program.
"From what they were saying, it was right on the borderline of what they were going to give us," he said.
Investigation ... Essendon players at training. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
"Everyone signed it, it was a personal choice as to whether they took it … it does seem very odd, the type of stuff we were taking. They admitted to us it was right on the edge of the levels you could be taking."
He said that Essendon's media conference could have been an attempt to get on the front foot and confront the issue.
Ings said the peptides which were reported to have been used were banned under World Anti-Doping Agency rules. He said he was not making an accusation about the substances Essendon used.
Watson said he would be "absolutely devastated" if his son Jobe was stripped of his Brownlow Medal as a result of the drugs probe."As a parent, I'd be devastated for him," Watson said.
"I'd be completely and utterly destroyed and that is one of the components of this story too, there are lots of things that are going on that we don't know about.
"I've got no idea where this investigation will go and I don't think anybody does."
Speaking on radio station 3AW on Wednesday morning, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency John Fahey said the rules against drug use in sport were clear.
‘‘It’s each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substances enter into his or her body. It’s not necessary for the athlete to show intent or fault or negligence or knowing use ... the simple fact is that the substance is in the body, then the offence is proven and the sanctions apply,’’ he said.
Last year, NSW rugby union player Mitchell Spackman was suspended for two years after buying growth hormone-releasing peptide online.
Ings said that in its investigation, ASADA would interview all key players, present and former training staff and would urgently try to take samples of the substance said to have been taken.
He added that each player involved in using performance-enhancing drugs would be liable for prosecution for an anti-doping rule violation.
"Being unaware of what you're taking is no excuse," he said. "The process would also be applied to support staff or people who were aware or were knowledgeable or were involved in administering any type of banned substance."