“They have got no evidence”: Stephen Dank. Photo: Justin McManusStephen Dank, the architect of the Essendon supplements program, is set to appear before the AFL appeals board on Monday but is angry no oral submissions will be allowed.
Dank is fighting 10 charges, including the alleged administration of thymosin beta-4. He is also seeking to overturn the lifelong ban slapped on him by the AFL anti-doping tribunal in June, 2015.
“They have got no evidence. Nine of them relate to my work, which they have no jurisdiction over. The other is thymosin beta-4 and they have no evidence,” he said on Thursday.
“We are asking: where is the evidence? No one has produced one skerrick of evidence. There has been hearsay from one witness who, let’s take away his background, has provided no evidence and his testimony produced was simply incongruent with timelines and supporting evidence. There is no evidence, there is no credible testimony.”
Dank on Thursday won his battle to have the hearing open to the public. He received a letter from appeals board chairman Peter O’Callaghan, QC, stating: “As chairman of the board, I have been assisted by my fellow board members with whom I have consulted, and who both agree with the ruling that the hearing be in public”.
“If issues of privacy or confidentiality arise during the hearing of the appeal there is ample power for directions to be made protecting those who might be affected thereby.”
However, Callaghan said “the board does not consider there is a need for oral submissions”.
Dank’s legal team is disappointed with that decision, believing it was important Dank have the opportunity to explain his actions in person. His legal team will now consider seeking to have his case heard in the Federal Court.
Had oral submissions been allowed, Dank was set to call former Bombers chief executive Ian Robson and football manager Paul Hamilton as witnesses.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the AFL are also set to provide submissions. ASADA did not wish to comment on Thursday.
All hearings through this case have been in camera, bar the submissions given by various parties at a directions hearing before the anti-doping tribunal at AFL House in November 2014, when arguments over whether the full case should be closed or open to the public were made.
Dank has asked for seven days to present his case; ASADA wants the hearing to run for three.
In April 2015, Dank was found guilty of 10 of 34 alleged breaches of the AFL anti-doping code, but was cleared on three charges relating to administering TB4. But the AFL anti-doping tribunal, under chairman David Jones, found to its comfortable satisfaction that he had sought to “traffick in [TB4], by selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties, namely the Essendon Football Club” between January 2012 and September 2012.
During the protracted investigation, six players said they had been given a form of thymosin during the injecting program, but none could confirm it was thymosin beta-4. Dank maintains they were given the legal thymomodulin.
While the AFL anti-doping tribunal in March 2015 cleared the players of being given TB4, the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed this finding to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS overturned the tribunal’s decision, and the players last season served a 12-month ban.
The players’ subsequent appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal also resulted in a rejection, prompting Jobe Watson to hand back his Brownlow Medal.
In his statement outlining why he returned the medal, Watson made it clear he felt he had not been given TB4. AFL senior counsel Jeff Gleeson QC had reportedly urged CAS to consider that Watson had not been doped at all.
The breaches levelled against Dank by the AFL anti-doping tribunal also related to “trafficking, attempting to traffic and complicity in matters related to a range of prohibited substances”. The substances were Humanofort, CJC-1295, Hexarelin, GHRP6 and SARSM.
The breaches did not only relate to his time at Essendon. The tribunal also said it was satisfied he had trafficked Mechano Growth Factor to a Carlton support person.
The tribunal was also comfortably satisfied that Dank had broken the anti-doping code by “trafficking in, by selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering and/or distributing to a third party or parties, namely the Gold Coast Suns Football Club and support persons of the club, a prohibited substance, namely CJC-1295, in December 2010”.
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