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Sports medicine expert met with Essendon training officials

Posted by: Michael James, Ellen Feely & Darren Boyd | 5 February, 2013 - 3:19 PM
Essendon Bombers

The Essendon Supplement scandal deepens today with reports a convicted drug trafficker supplied the Club's sports scientist with supplements that are now in question.

The Age report that Biochemist Shane Charter is alleged to have provided Essendon sports scientist  Stephen Dank with supplements sourced from Asia.

Dank has told The Herald Sun the injections he gave players were clean.

Last night a sports medicine specialist revealed how he met with Essendon high performance manager Dean Robinson and Dank last year regarding the issue of low testosterone and growth hormone levels in players.

Speaking with Tom Elliott, Manager of the Epigenx Integrated Medicine Practice Dr Robin Willcourt said his discussion with the pair focused on how players' issues could be helped 'legally'.

LISTEN: Sly of the Underworld with Ross & John

LISTEN: Dr Robin Willcourt speaks with Tom Elliott

LISTEN: Age reporter Richard Baker speaks with Ross & John

Dr Willcourt told Tom Elliott after hearing of the investigation into the club's practices, it was clear something had occurred at Essendon he was not aware of.

"Clearly that is something that when I heard this happened yesterday it was really obvious to me that something that had gone on that I didn't know about," he said.

"Neither Steve Dank or Dean Robinson had ever suggested at any point the use of peptides or any other thing."

Dr Willcourt said his conversation with both Dank and Robinson was 'nothing but ethical', with the conclusion drawn that only the standard sports supplements could be used and increase the level of protein intake.

3AW Presenter and Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy said the ramifications of a possible doping offence 'are so big it’s impossible to comprehend'.

LISTEN: The explosive first minutes of 3AW Sports Today

"The look on James Hird, David Evans and Ian Robson’s faces suggest that they are now fully aware of the outcome and that is that the Bombers may not be playing this year and possibly the next," he said on Sports Today.

"It’s a big 'if' at present, I grant you and by God we all hope it turns into a big nothing.

"But from what I’ve been seeing over 12 months  and from what I’ve heard over 12months and today, it couldn’t look any worse for the Bombers and sadly possibly one other club."

The President of the World Anti-Doping Agency John Fahey told Neil Mitchell it is each athlete's personal duty 'to ensure that no prohibited substances enter into his or her body'.

"(For) anyone who wishes to play the game of cheating there is an automatic two-year disqualification from the sport," he said.

"It’s not necessary for the athlete to show intent or fault or negligence or knowing use or anything like that. The simple fact is if the substance is in the body then the offence is proven and the sanctions apply."

Mr Fahy said WADA is not yet involved in the investigation but there is a possibility they could be at a later stage.

LISTEN: World renowned anti-doping lawyer Richard Redman of Lander and Rogers Lawyers on Sports Today

LISTEN: Leading AFL Physician Dr Peter Larkins on 3AW Breakfast

LISTEN: WADA President John Fahey speaks with Neil Mitchell

On Tuesday Essendon chairman David Evans told a press conference that information gathered over the previous 48 hours had brought to light questionable supplements used by the playing group last year.

The club had notified the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the AFL, inviting them to investigate the matter as quickly as possible.

"It's something that we need to get experts involved and move towards a clean bill of health as quickly as we can," chief executive Ian Robson said.

Sports Today producer and former sports lawyer Darren Boyd told Tom Elliott the revelation of questionable substance use has not taken everybody by surprise.

There has been recent speculation the substance in question is Human Growth Hormone peptides, however the club strongly denied its players had been taking performance-enhancing substances.

"Gerard Healy and I...have been following the rumours that have been swirling in this space about this story for some months," Darren Boyd said.

"It often happens that supplements that players take...(or) any athletes take...often contain substances and you're not aware fully of what they are.

"It's possible that might be the situation here.

Darren Boyd said there was a strong suggestion that a trainer at the club had asked players to sign a form agreeing to take the supplements and removing any liability.

After attending the press conference, 3AW sports reporter Alexandra Factor said a cloud still surrounded the type of supplements players had been using.

"In terms of these supplements, which is what (Essendon) are calling them, we haven't been told as to whether they are vitamins and minerals or in fact drugs and something more serious," she told Tom Elliott.

"They don't believe they've done anything wrong."

LISTEN: Essendon great Matthew Lloyd discusses the allegations

In a statement to the media, club chairman David Evans said the investigation was 'very distressing' for the club.

"We believe as a club that we have done everything to be compliant with the rules and regulations of the AFL and ASADA," he said.

"But, the integrity of the club is critical...and that is why we have moved quickly today to call the AFL and ASADA to seek a clean bill of health."

Speaking with Tom Elliott, drugs in sport expert Associate Professor Geoff Sussman from Monash University said under ASADA rules, any individual players found to have taken banned substances would be sanctioned.

"As far as ASADA rules are concerned, it is the individual that you would have to look at," he said.

"There are some sanctions against coaches or trainers who are in fact supplying banned substances as well.

"A few years ago, there were tests done on a number of supplements and about 35 per cent of them were found to have banned substances in them."

3AW Football commentator Mike Sheahan told Tom Elliott the Bombers had a 'marked fall off in their performance' last year.

"They were up earlier probably than any other club in the competition in 2012 and their decline was dramatic," he said.

"I don't know if I'm reading too much into that or not, but it seems like they were taking a pretty powerful force earlier in the season and that they may have dropped that later.

"The levels of fitness and form of their footy club tapered off."

LISTEN: Sports Today producer Darren Boyd and drugs in sport expert Associate Professor Geoff Sussman speak with Tom Elliott:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • The Lads supporting Soccer might to want to take a breather in their abuse of Australian Football. Yes Soccer is a great game but the mental health of many of the millions who follow it around the world is a concern as regularly shown with the off field supporter violence. I wont be going to a soccer game when seats are ripped out of their footings by people with mental health anger management problems. maybe not such a great game after all.

    Jumping Jack Saturday 9 February, 2013 - 4:30 PM
  • So Lance Armstrong may not so different after all.

    As for @Matt, yet another night of persistent bed wetting has created yet another one of yet crazy rants.

    Ivan@kinnane Saturday 9 February, 2013 - 2:00 PM
  • Essenbong Football Club

    "See the Bombers shoot up,up"

    david Saturday 9 February, 2013 - 1:29 AM
  • James Heard should be sacked! Imagine being complicite in having your whole team subjected to injections...something out of the 1930's where the Nazi's had to win at all costs. Clean out the whole of the Essendon club while you are at it. Heard doesn't have it in him to lead a club to victory as he has followed where a true coach would have led!

    Jim Friday 8 February, 2013 - 10:53 AM
  • Don't know why you are laughing 'Matt always against everything Australian'. This enquiry also covers your beloved soccer and match fixing of at least 700 games. You can't tell me that drugs also are not a problem in other sports and that includes the wimpy game soccer.

    Gloss Thursday 7 February, 2013 - 1:21 PM
  • Hahahahahahaha this just keeps getting better, poor old ADL won't be able to cope with such a crisis, it's such a small sport. Football has survived crisis after crisis because its so big & nothing can kill it. Time to wrap it up, you have had over 150 years & haven't expanded anywhere past Southern Australian, it's obvious no one is interested & now a drugs crisis, after all the rapes, violence & binge drinking dramas. Hahahahahahaha it's so funny, karma hurts.

    Matt - proudly Un-Australian Thursday 7 February, 2013 - 11:44 AM

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