Could this be (part) of the Essendon truth?

By Shawn Smith,

Published on May 1, 2013   —   5 min read

How did this whole thing get started?

For literally 6 months, there have been rumours about our supplement program last year. Not rumours that it was illegal, but rumours that it was over the top and partly caused our injury epidemic.

These rumours are 100% true. I heard them back in December directly from a former player. The following is what I was told:

On Hird and Bomber’s direction, the fitness Dept were instructed to find a way to make the squad bigger and stronger very fast. As such, Dank was employed because he had a (well-founded) reputation for pushing the envelope. At EFC – as long as the program was legal – he had a mandate to push the envelope as far as he could. The playing list were told about this. Every single player (except for Fletcher and Watson) signed up to the program.

The results of the program were amazing at first but in February, concerns were being raised. Players were going so hard (particularly in the gym) that they were frequently passing out. As such, the program was scaled back. At this time, Dank and Weap were concerned at the testosterone levels in certain players – these were low due to the incredible amount of work they had been doing.

Of course confirmed in media reports is that Dank and Weap went to a few chemists asking for solutions to this problem. They didn’t find much.

Once the injury epidemic (due to rapid muscle growth in the pre-season) hit mid year, some players and officials were disgruntled and started talking to people outside the club, including media. This is where the rumours got started about our program. However at this stage, the rumours were that our program was over the top and caused our injuries (true and true), not that anything illegal was going on. The media couldn’t get confirmation and therefore held back on running the story – but alluded to it constantly.

Dank is let go at the end of the year due to the failure of his program and the fact that it caused so many soft tissue injuries.

How the story broke and Hexerellin invoices:

The ACC has been for months conducting an investigation into illegal bikie gangs and other criminal groups. A lot of these groups illegally import body building supps that are illegal under the WADA code for athletes (but legal for others to take). They import them on the black market as it is substantially cheaper to do so.

Dank is a dodgy cat who ran with these circles to supply substances to his private clinic. Now this is where it gets interesting. For reasons unknown, Dank (who has been given free range by EFC to give the players a range of substances) decides to submit some of his invoices for substances for his clinic (Hexerellin) to EFC for payment. EFC paid these invoices without doing due dillgence as to what they were for.

The ACC follow the money trail as part of the investigation and realise that some of these substances have been paid for on the EFC account. In February, they notify EFC of this fact. EFC are no no longer sure that their program was above board – as Hexerellin is definitely illegal and they paid for it. They do the only thing they could do and immediately fess up to the AFL and order an investigation.

The media take this story as confirmation of the rumours they heard the previous year and run wild with stories of drug dungeons, chemical laboratories, injections in the stomach etc etc. Its not that those stories aren’t true – a lot of them are. Its just that they are unrelated to the Hexerellin issue. A textbook case of 1 + 1 = 5.

Dank’s cover-up:

Dank now knows that the gig is up in respect of the invoices. He knows that he defrauded the club by submitting invoices which weren’t for players. But of course – he can’t say that the substances were for the players to save his ass as that would also kill his reputation in the industry. He also doesn’t want to admit he defrauded the club.

So he makes another play – he states that he gave the substance to the coaches instead. When you think about it – this is a very smart play.
How does a person prove, a year after the fact, that they DIDNT take something? From an evidence perspective, its very hard to do. Dank selectively releases texts to the media to support this contention but none of them actually refer to anything illegal.

Hird comes out and denies this claim very strongly. Its important to note that he didn’t need to do this as he hasn’t done anything illegal even if the claims are true. But he went hard and denied it anyway. This very strong denial convinces me that Dank’s claims re Hird and the coaches are false and that he is only making them to cover his ass and to save him from criminal fraud charges.

I think it is extremely unlikely that Hexerillin was given to the players. Think about it logically – If EFC were giving illegal substances to the players, there is no way that the club would have sought AND retained an invoice for those illegal substances. It beggars belief.

The AOD Issue:

The issue with AOD is something completely separate to all of this. It has been discussed at length so I won’t go across old ground but its very safe to say that, although WADA have confirmed that it is illegal for players, Dank and EFC (and other clubs such as Melb) did not believe this to be true. This could be due to conflicting advice from ASADA (which is reflected in the ACC report), or it could be due to the fact that its a relatively grey area under the code.

One thing is for certain though – ASADA will not attempt to prosecute or recommend sanctions for use of AOD unless they are very sure that those sanctions will stand up when challenged in court. My understanding is that this is very very unlikely.

Where will we end up?

The Ziggy report is going to wack us pretty hard for bad governance – particularly around the payment of the Hexerellin invoices. It will also likely wack us for the failure of our 2012 program and the injuries it caused.

Almost certainly, Robson will step down and take responsibility for these governance failures (and make no mistake, they are significant).
Others will go too. Persons in charge of the fitness program will also be in the gun. This may include some coaches depending on their levels of involvement. The AFL will give us a giant fine or other punishment for these bad governance processes.

IMO – the above is perfectly reasonable.

The ASADA report in Aug/Sept will find that no players (and likely, no
coaches) took Hexerellin. It will also likely find that some players took AOD but will not recommend sanctions against players due to the ambiguity around the legality of the substance. It may recommend club sanctions.

The media will still flame us for the failure of our 2012 program and the governance issues. Caro will still claim victory. But EFC – and its players – will come through this whole mess a better club, with better processes and systems going forward and this will all be a distant memory.

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