What if Steven Dank and Essendon are the tip of the iceberg?

Adam Vaughan Roar Pro

By Adam Vaughan, Adam Vaughan is a Roar Pro

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    The Essendon supplement saga has rocked the club and the AFL itself. It should make all professional sporting bodies nervous.

    If the reports of supplements containing banned substances are confirmed, many questions must be asked.

    How, in this day and age, where athletes are apparently tested at random for traces of literally thousands of drugs?

    How, when there are so many anti-doping agencies that its difficult to keep up with the WADAs or ASADAs or USADAs of the world?

    How, after all professional sporting bodies the world over (except maybe the International Cycling Union) have taken the high moral ground against performance enhancing drugs, can this happen?

    Right under everyone’s noses?

    How can a man such as Stephen Dank, the alleged mastermind behind this potential fiasco, almost get away with practically doping the Essendon Bombers playing squad? In the presence of medical staff, coaching staff and administrators of a professional football club?

    And why has this all come to light because of an ex-player? A case of sour grapes perhaps. But he has a very specific story. And the Bombers have reacted strangely if they think he’s lying.

    The sporting world is full of copycats. If something works for a competitor, you can bet the rest of the sport will follow. It was the case with wrestling techniques in the ruck for rugby league and it worked in AFL with the ‘flood’.

    Why would sports science be immune from this trend? Especially since it seems to be unchecked.

    The only individuals with enough knowledge of the procedures used and the theories behind them seem to be the sports scientists themselves.

    Seem to be.

    I am not suggesting that all sports scientists do the same thing as Dank, nor am I saying that the several clubs that Dank has worked for should be tarred with the same brush as the Bombers.

    However, I am not naïve enough to think that Dank is Robinson Crusoe when it comes to concocting dodgy supplements in professional sport.

    This may all turn out to be nothing. Dank may be found to be completely innocent. But what if this is fact? Will the AFL be strong enough to act as decisively as they say they will?

    Will other sports take heed? How will the doping agencies regain any credibility?

    So many questions. Yet the questions aren’t the scary part.

    The answers very well could be.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • February 7th 2013 @ 8:25am
      greendragon said | February 7th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      AFL fans aren’t going to like what I’m going to say, but for the good of the sport it needs to air its dirty laundry and put it in the past.

      The AFL administration has become a marketing, spin and promotional body. It isn’t about sport at all, its brand promotion and lobying for government funding. The organisation has largely lost its way.

      Why has nothing been done about tanking at Melbourne? That happened years ago, is been brought up by people involved in it, yet still NOTHING has been done about it. Compare that to the Salary Cap scandal at the Storm – swift, hard punishments for an expansion club which could have been killed in the process. Did that stop the NRL from acting? So why is the AFL still dragging its feet on this? Is it hoping it simply goes away? Is Demetriou still denying that it even happens?

      The 3 strike drug policy is a sham, which apparently is easy to get around by self reporting. It isn’t in line with any Drug Authority guidelines. It is merely a tool for the AFL to let players off when they get caught with out publicly loosing face. But this simply encourages the players to take the drugs!

      Finally, the current fiasco. I am glad this issue will be out of the AFLs control. Their marketing department can’t spin this away. In the long term, Australian Rules will be better off if it confronts its problems head on. Short term pain, but the sport retains its integrity by persuing wrong do’ers.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 8:59am
        greendragon said | February 7th 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Good Richard Hinds article today discussing this. He seems to agree with me.

        http://www.smh.com.au/afl/afl-news/asada-deals-bitter-pill-to-afls-brand-protectors-20130206-2dxtu.html

        • Roar Guru

          February 7th 2013 @ 10:51am
          TomC said | February 7th 2013 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Yep, excellent article by Hinds.

          The way the AFL moderates it’s punishments for PR reasons is pretty concerning for all kinds of reasons. The obvious solution is to establish two separate organisations: one who runs the league, and one who administers the sport as a whole across the country. This is how most sporting bodies are structured across the world, but I don’t see much interest in it within the game.

          As greendragon says, with issues like tanking, given Demetriou’s statements in the past, you have to wonder if the AFL’s decision making is being influenced by not wanting to publicly embarrass the current leadership.

          But that said, I think mostly the reason the Demons haven’t been punished is that there isn’t any evidence they’ve actually tanked.

          My concern at the moment is that the AFL may have bullied Essendon into requesting an ASADA investigation and holding a press conference to try and get ahead of this story, and shift the focus onto one club rather than league-wide practices. I’m getting the impression that there’s very little to this issue, which makes me wonder why Essendon have reacted in the way they did.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 4:44pm
        Kev said | February 7th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

        You know what, I’m an AFL fan and I agree with you. Demetriou has done a fair bit of good for the game during his tenure with the massive increase in attendances and TV deals but his stance on various issues such as drugs and tanking leave a lot to be desired. The three strikes policy should be changed to one strike that sees a player suspended for at least half the season unless they and doctors can prove that they have a demonstrated history of addiction in which case they should be given help. This would scare off anyone who wants to dabble in experimentation and protect those who have a genuine problem with addiction because the reality is that I think some take drugs because of addiction and not just because they have the money and the means to buy them.

        With the tanking saga I think the blame lies with the AFL rather than Melbourne themselves. They created a situation where it was more of an incentive to lose games at the pointy end of the season to gain draft picks. If Brock McLean hadn’t spoken out about it I highly doubt that the AFL could have or would have had the evidence to proceed with the investigation anyway because unless a player or coach speaks out, how are you going to know? Playing players out of position? Maybe but then again that could be seen as a coach’s right to experiment to find the best structure for his side. Losing matches that they should win? Again that happens almost every week and we don’t call it tanking.

        The best way forward is what they’ve done and that is get rid of the simplistic criteria for priority picks and leave it private and at the discretion of the AFL commission.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 7th 2013 @ 9:53am
      josh said | February 7th 2013 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Personally if I was Essendon I’d be more upset I was paying this bloke to dope the players and they still under performed and got injured. This has to be the worst doping regime in the history of sports.

      • February 7th 2013 @ 4:44pm
        John said | February 7th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

        No Essendon should be thankful that their season was so poor. They would potentially be about to be stripped of a premiership if the alleged doping worked.

    • February 7th 2013 @ 9:48pm
      Swampy said | February 7th 2013 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

      Exactly what lobbying does the AFL do to the government? It has a budget of $400m a year and receives around $1.2m in government funding which is put into a school kids program.

      That point aside, there is a groundswell that suggests the floodgates to the darkside of hell is about to open.

      Hot on Lance Armstrong and baseball and football and cricket betting, FIFA voting and everything else, maybe we’re about to have a revolution in fair play.

      Or not.

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    • February 8th 2013 @ 7:06am
      Philip Maguire said | February 8th 2013 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      It’s not just Essendon now. The Bombers have come forward themselves, other clubs will now be considering their options. According to reports today a different AFL club, targeted by ASADA is suspected of having 40 players, their entire squad, taking illegal peptides.

      Sports science quacks are destroying real sport and endangering lives. Authorities need to crack down on it. It’s not sports science, it’s sports crime.

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