Stephen Dank Appeals Life Ban

Lisa Albergo's picture

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Stephen Dank, recently handed an international life ban from the sports industry, announced that he will appeal that ban and reiterated his intentions of possible legal action against ASADA. He also announced legal action against the AFL, but he has yet to file any motions. Dank, through an attorney, submitted a statement to the AFL legal department indicating his appeal. The appeal has been set for a tentative date of August 17. However Dank has asked for an extension so he can better prepare even though there is still no word as to whether or not he will actually appear before the hearing.

Dank remains angry at ASADA and the AFL for the way the investigations were handled. At the time of the initial guilty verdict by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, Dank said ASADA was "poor in their conduct, execution and understanding of this whole investigation" and accused the AFL of "stage-managing" the whole affair from the beginning.

Former ASADA chairman Richard Ings said in April that the charges against Dank were a long time coming. According Ings, Dank apparently admitted to the distribution of banned substances through his business in peptides. Although he is not an accredited sports scientist, Dank is a qualified biochemist. However his employment with Essendon at the time conflicted with his personal business in peptides. While some items can be purchased over the counter in Australia, it does not preclude such items being banned by ASADA and/or WADA in the sports industry.

ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt has urged Dank to make good on his threats, indicating that ASADA would take an active role in the appeal. McDevitt said it would give all concerned a chance to finally cross-examine Dank directly. Should the Anti-Doping Tribunal panel grant Dank's request for an extension, it could delay the WADA appeal before the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS), which has now set a date of mid-November. They have also opted to hold the hearing in Sydney rather than Switzerland (CAS headquarters) as originally planned due to the fact that everyone concerned is based in Australia and it would be more cost effective. 

It is unclear how long the case would take, and while the hearing is a fresh one with the allowance of new material being introduced, the panel does not have to re-hear the evidence which was presented at the AFL Tribunal. The WADA appeal is being led by renowned Colorado-based anti-doping expert and lawyer Richard Young, who helped write the WADA code and was a member of the Lance Armstrong prosecution team.

As for Essendon and the players involved - 17 of whom are still with the Bombers - it means another year of uncertainty with the saga set to drag on through the end of the 2015 season, this year's trade and draft periods and into the 2016 preseason. This has impacted the club's list management with no one knowing whether or not the players will be hit with suspensions. It also has players from rival clubs reluctant to cross to Essendon.

Source: alf.com.au, smh.com.au, abc.net.au, theage.com.au

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