A letter to Stephen Dank

Date: August 17, 2013 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Dear Stephen,

I trust this correspondence finds you well.

I can only imagine how hectic life must have been lately.

Fear not though, I left the ABC a few years back and I am not writing to try and line up an interview – I’m sure you feel you have given enough of them already I would imagine.

It is just that I have followed the so-called ‘Essendon Supplement Scandal’ reasonably closely, and for what it’s worth, I just thought I would pass on a few observations and ask a couple of questions if that’s OK.

One thing that has really puzzled me through this whole saga is why you have refused to cooperate with ASADA.

I know you have stated that had they come to you on day one and asked for your cooperation you would have happily provided it.

However, as I understand it you have refused to talk to them because you believe that they have displayed a “lack of process and a lack of respect”.

See, it’s the use of the word ‘respect’ that I sort of have a problem with.

Let me explain where I’m coming from.

In the last few days you have spoken quite freely in the media about how you feel the Essendon Football Club and four of its employees – coach James Hird, his senior assistant Mark Thompson, football manager Danny Corcoran and club doctor Bruce Reid – have all been treated badly with respect to being charged by the AFL.

In fact, I read yesterday that you said “the whole thing is quite laughable”.

I just wonder if the four chaps who have been charged with bringing the sport into disrepute are laughing as hard as you are.

But I digress.

You also said shortly after the charges were handed down that, “I can’t speak highly enough of the duty of care of the four mentioned people who are facing these charges”.

See, this is where I struggle a bit with the way you have handled all this.

Every time you speak about the likes of Hird and co, you do so in glowing terms – in fact you strongly endorse that they, and the club, did nothing wrong.

You seem to have quite a deal of respect for them and as you have said, respect is something you see as being very fundamental in a process such as this.

You see, it puzzles me why, despite your protestations over the lack of respect shown to you by ASADA, that you could not have put that to one side and agreed to speak to its investigators so as to stop the four men whom you respect so much at Essendon having to face a “kangaroo court”, as you described the process yesterday.

Very early on in this saga you said that you had an email from WADA that stated that there was no issue with administering the drug AOD-9604 to athletes.

I know WADA has released what it says is the full email conversation you had with it and yet what they made available publicly did not contain, or bear reference, to the email that you possess.

Now, I certainly do not need to tell you, but one of the really big issues at stake in this whole episode has been the status of AOD-9604 with respect to the WADA Code.

And boy, all along you have had the evidence to end the confusion once and for all, well before the four Bombers employees were charged with conduct unbecoming.

In fact, you could have pretty much put the kibosh on things right from the start just by simply handing over that particular email.

I am just curious as to why you have never felt the need to do that?

You have also said several times that you have in your possession the documentation that accounts for every substance that was administered to the Essendon players – dosage, regularity, the whole lot.

And yet again, by keeping that stuff to yourself you have sort of left the four blokes hanging out there on their own.

Didn’t you consider at any time that your intervention could have saved them all a lot of pain and also largely put to bed this entire issue?

A lot of people think that the reason that the recently tabled report is an interim one is because ASADA has not been able to chat with you.

We have all seen the news lately where, as of 1 August, ASADA now has beefed up investigative abilities whereby they have powers akin to a police investigation.

Again, a lot of people think that the new powers were requested through Federal Parliament as a way of ensuring that you can be interviewed by the ASADA investigators – kinda like the ‘Dank Clause’, which is pretty cool I must admit.

According to the media release that accompanied the passing of this new legislation it said that ASADA can order anybody it feels may be able to assist in its investigations to give evidence, as well as hand over any documents it asks for.

I keep reading that you will not be agreeing to talk with ASADA regardless of their new legislated abilities.

I see in the newspaper yesterday that as yet they haven’t come knocking on your door with the documentation of the new powers of investigation close at hand.

Is it true that you can stand to be fined $5100 for each day that you refuse to comply with their request? – that’s what I read anyway.

You’ve said that you will go as far as the High Court to prevent yourself from having to be interviewed by ASADA.

Now, don’t get me wrong, but a few people I have spoken to about all this trot out that well-worn expression, ‘if you ain’t got nothing to hide why not do as they say?’

For what it’s worth, I just reckon you run the risk of losing some personal credibility by trying to fight off all this stuff.

But hey, that’s just my take and you know exactly why you are taking the course of action that you are.

There is one thing that I have considered – and I am sure you have too – and that is what will happen if those charged by the AFL are found guilty and as a result go to the public courts to try and clear their names?

Now, I admit I am a layman when it comes to the law, but my guess is that you will be subpoenaed to give evidence.

I think I am right in saying that there is not really much you can do to get out of appearing in court when you have been instructed to.

So, here’s my thing – somewhere along the line it would appear that one way or another you will be forced to produce the medical records and emails that you have in your possession, as well as having to answer all questions put to you.

Which again begs the question, why haven’t you just done this already of your own volition and in the process pretty much ended this thing before it really even got started?

And dare I say, saved yourself and many others a small fortune in legal fees – and boy don’t those blokes know how to charge!

Anyway, I guess that’s all I really wanted to say.

If you want to get back to me I’d appreciate it.

If not, I’ll keep an eye on the media to see how all this pans out for you and the others involved.

All the best.



PS – I saw the photos in the ‘paper of you having lunch with Sam Newman.

Honestly, you can’t do anything nowadays without the media finding out!

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 16 August 2013