by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Stephen Dank's appeal against his lifetime ban from international sports was set for November 21. However, the day before the hearing he emailed his former attorney that he would be unable to attend due to a family member being seriously ill in the hospital. He, in turn, notified lawyers for the AFL and ASADA and requested an adjournment. After 45 minutes of deliberation, board chairman Peter O'Callaghan announced the rescheduling of the hearing for December 1, contingent on Dank providing evidence from the hospital concerned and attending physician by November 26. This went against the request by the attorneys that the appeal be immediately dismissed due to their skepticism regarding Dank's latest excuse.
AFL counsel Renee Enbom told the panel "no court in the state would have tolerated the way Mr Dank has conducted himself in this process". She proceeded to list cite a series of examples of Dank's non-compliance, including his allowing deadlines to pass, his delaying by more than 12 months his appearance before the board, his failure to provide a list of witnesses he intended to call, and his sending of correspondence to all parties couched "in a threatening tone". She went to say that she doubted anyone present would have been surprised by Dank's failure to appear or his excuse, ""I don't think anyone ... really expected Mr Dank to prosecute his appeal. He's done just enough every time to keep it alive." She said the whole affair needed to come to an end and that everyone including the players were "... entitled to some finality ... ".
ASADA lawyer Patrick Knowles noted that the email did not contain any information confirming Dank's claim of a family emergency and noted that it was just another example of his non-compliance, "He has been given umpteen chances by this appeals board ..." and added that the latest delay wasn't sufficient for the board to "grant him yet another indulgence". Knowles also pointed out the significant costs associated with Monday's hearing.
The latest deadline came and went with no documentation being presented by Dank. The evening before the hearing, Dank was interviewed several times on radio and said he would present the necessary documentation and denied suggestions he was holding up the proceedings.
It is not the first time the hearing has been rescheduled. There have been numerous dates set and numerous requests by the Tribunal for Dank to provide information relating to his appeal. Dank never supplied any of the information requested. Therefore, after the recent deadline passed with no word from him, the Appeals Board has thrown out his appeal citing his "lack of cooperation and communication".
The decision was immediately welcomed by the ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt who said Dank should never be allowed near any athlete anywhere in the world. McDevitt also said Dank had treated the board with contempt and described the appeal as a farce which had wasted and money, "From the start, Mr Dank has failed to comply with directions from the board, failed to ever produce a witness list or evidence, and failed to ever outline his case ... Mr Dank’s life-long ban from involvement in sport is entirely appropriate.
The Board and their chairman Peter O'Callaghan QC, released a timeline of proceedings to illustrate their directives to Dank as well as the numerous times it was rescheduled.
O'Callaghan basically said Dank had no one to blame but himself for the appeal decision. Dank on one occasion cited "ongoing litigation in NSW and limited financial capacity" for his inability to proceed with the appeal. By July of this year, he had no attorney.
If the opinions of Herald Sun writer Jon Ralph, SEN presenter Kevin Bartlett and the recently retired Adam Cooney are anything to go by, there is little or no sympathy for Dank.
Jon Ralph has a weekly spot on SEN Radio's The Run Home. On the program, he labeled Dank a coward. He said, “Hallelujah. Stephen Dank is finally off the scene. It was probably just another illustration of everything to do with him – a total shambles. Not only did Ralph label Dank a coward, he called Dank " ...the the greatest fraud in Australian sport and ... the greatest villain in Australian sport ... " for what he essentially failed to do for the players, "... he never once tried to get to the victim’s stand and say this is what I’ve got and I’ll try to help them ...". Ralph also called Dank's refusal or inability to testify on behalf of the players a narcissistic act. Ralph concluded his scathing attack by calling Dank the "... ultimate snake-oil salesman ..." for the way he was able to con his way into Essendon (and other sports clubs before that)..
Ralph also seemed to delight in the fact that the Herald Sun reported the previous week that Dank is on the verge of bankruptcy and hoped Dank would be financially ruined "... along with his credibility being torn to shreds." He mentioned that recently retired Bomber Adam Cooney said the payers didn't speak of Dank often, but when they did it was with disdain.
Ralph even so far as to say that the fact Dank would not have to be spoken about for the next 30 years was a "beautiful thing".
Kevin Bartlett, on his show Hungry For Sport, does a brief commentary on issues. His commentary regarding Dank was as follows:
"Dank is an awful person and those who supported and believed in him would be embarrassed today for he has taken a lot of people for fools. Dank never lifted a finger to help the Essendon Football Club and right to the end was still pedaling lines like “I will get Jobe Waston's Brownlow Medal back.”. Dank all but destroyed the Essendon Football Club. He destroyed a much loved player, captain and coach in James Hird. He destroyed a fine man and President in David Evans and a host of other support staff. And of course Watson had to hand back the games highest individual honor. All that is left to say about Stephen Dank is good riddance.".
To hear the full conversation between Ralph and Cooney as well as Bartlett's brief commentary, follow the links below:
Source: afl.com.au, sen.com.au
Article last changed on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 1:18 AM EST