Stephen Dank

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Stephen Dank is an Australian biochemist who worked as a sports scientist with National Rugby League clubs such as the Manly Sea Eagles and Australian rules football clubs such as Essendon Football Club and the Gold Coast Suns Football Club.

He is known for his unorthodox treatment and diagnostic methods, including using calf blood and profiling players' DNA.[1] Des Hasler described Dank as 'a great analytical thinker', in particular highlighting his contributions in the area of GPS application, statistical science, and altitude simulation training.[2]

In July 2016, Dank was targeted by a drive-by shooting attack that injured him.[3]

Australian Football League doping scandal[edit]

In February 2013, Essendon announced that they had asked the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to investigate the supplements program that Dank had overseen at their club during the 2012 season. A former player, Kyle Reimers, had claimed that the players were asked to sign waivers and were injected with supplements that were "pushing the boundaries".[4] Another former player, Mark McVeigh countered that the injections were only vitamins and all were completely legal and not on any World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substance list. Dank left Essendon at the end of the 2012 season, and high-performance manager Dean 'The Weapon' Robinson was suspended from the club after the announcement of the investigation.[5] Stephen Dank controversially admitted to a Fairfax journalist that he had been using thymosin beta 4 on Essendon players. When journalist Nick McKenzie pointed out that that drug was prohibited by WADA under its S2 classification, Dank hesitated and then seemed extremely surprised: "Well, that must have just only come in this year and I will get someone to speak to ASADA about that. That's just mind-blowing." After 24 hours, Dank informed Fairfax media that he was actually really talking about thymomodulin which was a permitted substance.[citation needed]

Following the publication of the Australian Crime Commission report into Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport,[6] lawyers acting for Dank launched a $10m defamation suit alleging that a subsidiary of News Corporation had falsely accused him of providing illegal drugs to elite athletes and contributing to Jon Mannah's cancer relapse.[7][8][9] In March 2016, a jury found that most of the accusations were substantially true and that he had acted with "reckless indifference" to the health of players. His claims for defamation were rejected.[10]

Other controversies[edit]

Other proceedings are active before Australian courts regarding Dank's supply of thymosin beta on sportsmen. Findings were made that he supplied the drug to a Mr Earl by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2015; these proceedings are subject to appeal, but were noted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in their findings regarding the Essendon Football Club doping scandal.[11]