by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Once the Anti-Doping Tribunal finished with the cases of the 34 past and present Essendon players, they turned their attention to the man at the center of it all: Stephen Dank. Dank was issued a show cause notice at the same time as the 34 players and his case was reviewed alongside those of the players however, no decision was rendered on him at that time. Dank never cooperated with the investigators or the tribunal. He also has claimed publicly throughout, that he never administered any banned substances and claimed he had proof that would clear the players. However, he has never produced the alleged proof and even cast doubt on whether it exists.
That did not save him with the Tribunal, which had over 30 charges against him. Each charge dealt with a specific substance and the details of each charge were very deliberate and specific in the wording. The charges related to banned substances Hexarelin, Insulin Growth Factor 1 (GF-1), Insulin Growth Factor 2 (GF-2), Mechano Growth Factor (MGF), Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF), Follistatin and Thymosin Beta 4. He is also charged with supplying support staff members at Carlton and Gold Coast. See "What are the banned substances? at the bottom of the page.
The Tribunal statement said that they were "comfortably satisfied" with breaches which included:
- "... selling, giving, transporting, sending delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties ... "
- "... attempting to traffic in, by selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties .."
- "... assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and/or other type of complicity in connection with attempted trafficking in, by selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties ... "
A hearing on Dank's sanction is scheduled for May 5. However, Dank has already announced he will appeal. A date for the AFL Appeals Board has yet to be confirmed. Most of the remaining charges could not be substantiated. MGF was given by Dank to a former Carlton part-time coach. He also, according to the Tribunal, attempted to supply the CJC-1295 peptide to a support staffer at Gold Coast. The Suns issued a statement which said that Dank had been employed only for a brief time and that ASADA's investigation took place outside of the club. The Tribunal also said Dank had distributed GHRP6 (a growth hormone) to a third party in baseball. This is all on top of his involvement with National Rugby League (NRL) club Cronulla. Dank has already been issued a lifetime ban from the NRL and faces a similar ban from the AFL.
The other charges related to Dank's alleged actual purchase, possession and administration by injection of Thymosin Beta 4 and Hexarelin to the Essendon players. These charges were at the center of the controversy. He is charged with supplying MGF to the former Carlton part-time coach between March and October of 2012. The alleged supply of another banned substance, CIC-1295, relates to the Gold Coast Suns in 2010. Although charged with assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and/or other type of complicity in connection with " ... attempted trafficking in, by selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties ... ", the charge of "attempted use" was dropped. ASADA expressed disappointment at Dank being cleared of "... a number of serious alleged violations ..." and that it comes just days before their appeals window closes. Dank is also facing, in the wording above, charges relating to providing MGF and GHRP6 to customers at the Medical Rejuvenation Clinic during his time with the Bombers.
In related news, ASADA has decided not to appeal the Anti-Doping Tribunal's decisions regarding the Essendon players, now leaving it all up to the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA). ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt released a statement which said in part the decision was made "... to ensure that any further action was taken outside of the AFL’s governance ... and that the decision was made after ... comprehensive legal advice ...". He further explained that ASADA cannot appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but rather only to the AFL Appeals Tribunal which would "... serve only to delay consideration of these matters by the World Anti-Doping Agency." Like ASADA, WADA now has 21 days to decide. ASADA has turned over their files to WADA for review. McDevitt concluded by saying ASADA would support WADA should that body decide to appeal. Dank is also facing, in the wording above, charges relating to providing MGF and GHRP6 to customers at the Medical Rejuvenation Clinic during his time with the Bombers.
Several days before the Tribunal announced their decision, Dank was interviewed on a Melbourne television show, a program viewed by SEN Morning Glory co-host Andy Maher. According to Maher, the interview seemed to favor Dank. Maher also said that Dank claimed that he had set up a computer program at Essendon for his supplements program. Contrary to his former claims that he had records of his time at Essendon, he claimed during the interview that the files and records were left at the club and were either lost or destroyed when the Bombers shifted their base of operations from Windy Hill to Tullamarine. Maher's co-host Andrew Gaze pointed out that even though files may have been deleted from a computer, the information could still be retrieved from the hard drive.
What are the banned substances?
CJC-1295: used in the bodybuilding world because of its muscle-building properties. Particularly dangerous because it can promote the growth of cancer-causing cells.
Hexaralin: increases production of natural growth hormones, thus better muscle tone.
SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators): provide regular benefits of steroids, such as higher levels of testosterone and increased muscle mass.
Humanofort: a muscle growth and recovery product. Contains multiple banned growth factors that can accelerate healing, including Thymosin Beta 4, Machano Growth Factor, Insulin Growth Factor 1, Insulin Growth Factor 2 and Follistatin.
GHRP-6: a peptide used to increase growth hormone levels, also used to aid fat loss and heal injuries.
Source: afl.com.au, the age.com.au, sen.com.au (audio)
Article last changed on Monday, April 20, 2015 - 2:28 PM EDT