Coaches given prohibited substances - Dank

BRAD WALTER AND CHRIS BARRETT
Last updated 07:08 12/02/2013

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Former Manly sports science guru Stephen Dank has revealed he provided supplements for Essendon coaching staff that are on the World Anti-Doping Authority's list of banned substances for players.

However, Dank - the man at the centre of the doping scandal engulfing the NRL and AFL - insists everything he did during his five years with the Sea Eagles was above board and said he had been told by the Australian Crime Commission he had done nothing wrong.

Dank, who confirmed that he was interviewed by the ACC last September, is understood to have been the first of more than 30 people so far quizzed by investigators.

''They obviously were quite happy with what I had discussed with them,'' Dank said. ''I figured that must had been consistent with whatever information that they'd had.

''They indicated to me that they were happy with that information. They said that they didn't think I had done anything wrong.''

In a pre-recorded interview on ABC television's 7.30, Dank insisted he had never given a banned substance to any player at Essendon or any NRL club he'd been involved with, including Manly and Cronulla.

Asked specifically about the Sea Eagles, where he worked under Des Hasler from 2006 to 2010, Dank confirmed the club had wanted to keep its cutting edge sports science program a closely guarded secret and admitted players had been injected with calves blood.

''I don't know so much that it was highly secretive except from the point of view obviously that Des liked to keep everything sort of protective,'' he said. ''It was like our IP [intellectual property] and it was basically what we went ahead and did a little bit differently than others.

''We used a lot of supplements to be honest, which was no different to a lot of other clubs in terms of protein powders and vitamins and amino acids. We'd use a little bit of calves blood there during the time but that was no different to what else was around in the world of sport at the time.''

Asked if ''anything fell over the line or fell over the edge'', Dank replied: ''No, no.''

But he did admit to providing coaches at Essendon with supplements that would have resulted in a player being banned if they were drugs tested. ''Look, there was some difference obviously in what we offered the coaches,'' Dank said. ''Let's face it, the coaches themselves are not subjected to any WADA code.

''Look, to be perfectly honest, there were a couple of coaches that were using some supplements, if you like, that were a little bit outside the WADA code. But again they were entitled to it. There's certainly nothing illegal there.''

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Fairfax Media was told that coaches often take products to see what effects - if any - they have.

Meanwhile, Essendon president David Evans and coach James Hird received a presentation on the peptide AOD-9604, which is mentioned in the Australian Crime Commission report on drugs and organised crime in sport, by the product's Melbourne-based patent holder last year, it can be revealed.

David Kenley, chief executive of Metabolic Pharmaceuticals, said Evans and Hird were addressed as potential investors in the company - whose peptide is not currently banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency - at a meeting in Melbourne before the 2012 season.

He said the presentation was aimed at enticing financial backing from the Essendon president's broking firm, Evans and Partners, in the pharmacological company's bid to have its peptide granted regulatory approval. Hird, the 1996 Brownlow medallist, has worked as a stockbroker and started as a director at the firm Gemba in 2006. ''We just gave a presentation about our activities,'' Kenley said on Monday.

Essendon are at the heart of the investigation engulfing both the AFL and the NRL since the ACC report was dropped with a thud last week.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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