(Un)Answered Questions

The ASADA saga has produced such a bewildering array of claims and poorly thought-out arguments that it has reached biblical proportions. I’ve misspent more time than is explicable dealing with young earth creationists and even they aren’t as misguided as much of what has been written. Which is a worry.

It’s a worry because, unlike our accredited football media, young earth creationists have demonstrated the foresight and integrity to self-moderate and self-correct. There is a page on a popular creationist website which addresses bad arguments. These are the arguments they don’t want their supporters to use as the they are so completely wrong that it even gives creationists a bad name. Remember, these are people who believe the entire universe is around 6,000 years old; who reject almost every known fact about the world; who believe all disciplines of science are involved in a global conspiracy designed specifically to undermine their faith; and even they have standards.

In light of the magnitude of misinformation in the public sphere it would be a handy resource were the football media to assemble a similar database with regards to the ASADA saga. Alas, much of the accredited AFL media lack the ability to reflect and fall short of the lofty honesty and accuracy standards displayed by world-class dogmatic reality deniers.

No matter how weak or factually incorrect an argument or stance, these self-proclaimed journalists vehemently defend and repeat them. This is often used in conjunction with a favourite tactic amongst conspiracy theorists referred to as verbosity, or ‘the shotgun approach’. The aim is to spray many ‘unanswered questions’ in quick succession in the hope that something might hit its target or at the very least the target will be so overwhelmed by the sheer number of concerns that they will be unable to respond to all raised matters. Thus a large database is required to address all concerns.

Answers in Genesis simply decree demands to their lemmings, a convenience of dealing with the fearful from a position of authority. Unfortunately, I lack that luxury so parts of this page will need to be more detailed. In any case, brevity is not my forté.

The following is my attempt to clarify some details. Much of what follows will take the form of answering questions, questioning answers or refuting false claims.

This is merely the beginning of a page that will continue to grow as I find time.

You are welcomed to contribute, especially if you are a professional journalist who has grown weary of refuting the same old nonsense ad-infinitum. If you identify a specific example, please leave it in the comments and don’t forget to show your reasoning. The best will be rewritten or copied into the body of this piece. Also, corresponding to each section there will eventually be a list of discredited journalists who have used and in some cases still maintain these affronts to human intellect. I would also ask for your research assistance in aligning these individuals to their faulty arguments.

So without further ado…

Why Self-Report If You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong?

This is a long time favourite of many. It is now fully discredited, but was used for the best part of a year to halt any chance of constructive discourse on the topic before it even began. The answer is Essendon didn’t self report, they were advised (directed) to ‘self-report’ by the AFL.

The ‘self-report’ was always a political fiction.

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou called Essendon chairman David Evans (undisputed by anyone) and discussed Essendon’s supplements program (also undisputed). The day before, Essendon were threatening legal action against any reporter who dared go public with doping allegations. The day after they were fronting a press conference sighting ‘new information’ that their supplements program may have had issues. The known timeline of events makes this an open and shut case.

Essendon’s stated position is now ‘we agreed to come forward’.

There Was No Tip-Off!

Defence of the above question was this bold assertion backed by an alleged argument which made about as much sense as a nursery rhyme.

More reading… Patrick Smith: Incompetent or Liar

Won’t Somebody Pleeease Think Of The Children?

Moral outrage is a powerful tool. ‘Sarah’ is the best example of it. Her appearance on live radio ended Essendon’s hopes of taking the matter to an open and impartial setting. The important thing to note is that her influence wasn’t derived from her message as it was an exact replica of the prevailing media narrative. She could (literally) have been reading the script directly from any Patrick Smith or Caroline Wilson article.

This tactic is not so much untrue, as is it manipulative. A charge exacerbated by the fact that it is completely disingenuous.

There was mass hysteria over the use of AOD9604, a substance purportedly ‘not approved for human use’ (despite United States classification of GRAS – generally recognised as safe). The moral outrage was powerful enough to demand the immediate dismissal of every official at the club.

Revelations that ASADA would not pursue AOD9604 due to the misinformation regarding the substance were met with silence.

I don’t refer to the oddly absent apologies to Essendon, and in particular Jobe Watson, although that situation was and remains a disgrace.

I refer to the lack of outrage being redirected towards ASADA who had advised that same ‘not approved for human use’ substance could be administered to Essendon players and who knows how many other professional and amateur athletes. Were the moral police genuine in their concerns, ASADA would now be being pursued with all the vigour originally directed at James Hird. Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t happened as everyone using this tactic is nothing more than an opportunistic fraud.

This was used – and remains in use – by almost the entire industry.

Why Give Cancer Drugs To A Healthy Athlete?

A newcomer to the hysteria. I suspect they most likely use it in order to shout ‘cancer’ as part of the manufactured emotional manipulation above.

The answer is that drugs have multiple uses and benefits. The claim that a substance has cancer fighting properties is a fair and accurate rebuttal of the hysteria surrounding the potential development of the disease, but says nothing of it’s intended use.

I’m not a sports-scientist, but consider a mundane example; aspirin.

Aspirin is a common and safe analgesic, and is also an antiaggregant that prevents clotting which is used to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. There is also research indicating it, too, could aid in the treatment cancer. At this point, the hysterical could cry ‘why are you administering cancer and cardiac medicine to a healthy young athlete?’. Could it possibly be that they had a headache, or a clot from an injury? Well, yes, but that’s not hysterical enough to sell papers or get your face on TV.

Similarly, the ‘AOD’ in AOD9604 stands for ‘anti-obesity drug’. So why would an athlete require an anti-obesity drug? Again, that is not its intended use. The substance has been shown to offer minor benefits in damaged tissue recovery.

These criticisms are among the most ignorant and egregious ever passed-off as journalism.

Essendon Players Must Prove Their Innocence

This claim is as disturbing and revealing as it is wrong, as it highlights the failings of the AFL. But, first things first.


Just, no.

Those who make this claim demonstrate no understanding of ASADA’s code or the AFL’s rules, both of which clearly state the onus is on the investigators to prove an athlete’s guilt.

From the AFL National Anti-Doping Code:

Section 15. Proof of Doping
15.1 Burden and Standard of Proof
AFL shall have the burden of establishing that an 
Anti-Doping Rule Violation has occurred.

And the ASADA version from which it is directly copied:

Article 7. Proof of doping
7.1  Burdens and standards of proof
ASADA or the ASC shall have the burden of establishing
that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred.

The matter is closed.

The wider issue is those affiliated with the AFL display a blatant disregard for proper procedure or justice. AFL accredited journalists have become accustomed to a dictatorial rule by pure force. As a result, they no longer even bother to read – let alone follow – the rules. After 18 months, it appears the ‘experts’ are yet read the first line of the league’s anti-doping code. They are only concerned with what the overlord proclaims.

Essendon Can’t Prove Players Weren’t Administered Banned Drugs

The attempt to reverse the burden of proof negates natural justice. It is this reversal which allowed the club to be punished without evidence.

Of course, Essendon couldn’t prove the players were given what they believed they were given. This is an unreasonable demand.

ie. One cannot prove which substances were in their child’s inoculations. They will know what they wanted; what they paid for; what was written on form; but that does not prove the contents of the needle. What if the doctor made an error, or betrayed their trust? Does this make the parents irresponsible? Unfit? Does it suggest they don’t care about their own child’s health? Of course not.

This is precisely Essendon’s position. They know what they wanted and have the official documentation signed by medical experts.

2 Year Bans!

Most journalists still report the maximum possible sentence as though it was a given. A quick internet search will provide anybody with the information required to refute this claim.

Reduced penalties are available in many circumstances. ‘No fault’ or ‘no significant fault’ can apply to athletes who took reasonable steps to ensure the substances were legal.

In this particular case, even if found guilty, the worst possible outcome would be a 6 month ban, although it could be reduced to no period of ineligibility.

Essendon Are Trying To Suppress Evidence

On the contrary, at every stage of the investigation, Essendon have been fighting for an open public forum.

The supreme court challenge to the validity of the investigation is indeed a technicality, but it is essential to the rule of law. Sporting organisations cannot do ‘whatever it takes’ to secure a conviction, they must act within the law. This path provides the quickest, easiest and cheapest end to the entire saga.

Inconveniently, this charge is more aptly applied to ASADA who refuse to provide the evidence on which they have based their show cause notices. This ploy has been repeatedly criticised by former ASADA boss, Richard Ings, who has stated it is not only normal operating procedure to provide the evidence to athletes, but the morally correct path.

If innocent, why won’t Dank clear his name?

This is a very good question. It provides an insight into the objectivity, or lack thereof, of the people who ask it. The clarity to consider all possibilities is not something many possess, especially when clouded by personal relationships or the professional need to defend their own long-held beliefs.

Consider for a moment that you are Stephen Dank and you are innocent as he claims to be.

You find yourself the primary target of a highly political doping probe conducted by the AFL – a known corporate bully with an established record of lies, threats, bribes and prejudged outcomes complete with sacrificial scapegoats and concealed findings – in (possibly illegal) conjunction with ASADA – a bumbling disorganisation who you know (and it is now conceded) has given unreliable advice regarding the legalities of a substance within the WADA code they are charged to enforce.

Would you come forward to tell the truth to those who show scant regard for facts or clearly possess an agenda over the matter? I suspect not. Going public with the details would not be advantageous either, as it sacrifices the moral high-ground, and potential legal out, surrounding privacy.

We would all like Dank to come clean but to expect him to do so is naive and repeatedly posing the question is merely a political exercise to imply guilt. The alternative is that he doesn’t trust the process or its implementation. Given the circumstances, that is a very reasonable position. Thus we can reach no conclusion from his behaviour or the constant posing of this question. It is, at best, unhelpful and potentially misleading.


Comments and suggestions (or corrections) welcome below…

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  1. #1 by Mick W on July 12, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    Love your work Steven.

    Listened to C Wilson’s 5AA segment on Soundcloud from last Thursday evening. Prime example of commentators not knowing the WADA code. Either that or she is deliberatley sprouting complete crap. Plus the 2 chumps hosting the show either don’t know SH@# from clay or are too soft to pull her up. Does my head in!

    And then we have Samantha Lane QC in today’s Age blaming Essendon for Medicare changing regs on rebates, due to supplements saga fallout.

    As Cleaver so eloquently says in Rake, F!@# me sideways.

    Keep up the great work Steven.


  2. #2 by Lee C on July 12, 2014 - 2:22 pm

    Excellent explanations of the issues Steven – non emotional just plain old facts…..what a difference they make to the story


  3. #3 by glenn on July 12, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Great work I love it pointing people to this who try argue those exact points. The nother common one is the Ziggy report. Perhaps you could add that to your list please.



  4. #4 by Goon_Squad on July 12, 2014 - 9:28 pm

    Great article and very elegantly put. Some Richard Ings twitter quotes might add for some independent confirmation.

    If you were to link articles to journos using these erroneous lines, it could be bloody long! But the ridiculous “open letter” by Michaelangelo Rucci has got to be up there (onus on the player…). And Barrett’s latest “think of the children” article (following on from Caro’s lead).

    And nice comparison with the creationists!



  5. #5 by Jim H on August 6, 2014 - 10:55 pm

    Q: But the AFL charge sheet says the Essendon players took Thymosin? It says so in the texting chain between Dank and Robinson!

    A: Yes, it does talk about players in that text exchange, and that is where context becomes important. In that exchange, the date stamps fall outside the time of their employment as Essendon.
    Robinson began employment at the Essendon football club on the 25th of August, 2011. Prior to this he was employed by the Gold Coast Suns for a year, working with Dank, who injected Nathan Bock with the WADA prohibited peptide CJC-1295 in December 2010.
    Dank was interviewed by EFC on the 28th of September, 2011, for the role of sport scientist. He didn’t officially commence employment at EFC until 4th of November, 2011.
    On 2 August 2011 Dank forwarded a text message to Robinson stating:

    Hi mate. Just in consult for a shoulder reconstruction. This case will be of interest to you. We are utilizing Thymosin post surgically for one shoulder but prophylactically for the other. Thymosin is so effective in soft tissue maintenance.

    Then on 23 August 2011 Dank forwarded a text message to Robinson stating: Don’t forget how important Thymosin is. This is going to be our vital cornerstone next year. It is the ultimate assembly regulatory protein and biological modifier.

    Is it possible that they weren’t discussing usage of Thymosin at Essendon? It may have been considered as a business interest, however, there is also the possibility that they were discussing usage at their current club of employment, the AFL bankrolled expansion club Gold Coast Suns … considering that Bock was possibly injected with a prohibited peptide, this is a possibility.
    That issue aside, it is clear that this was released in the charge sheet as a means of pressure on Essendon to heap speculation. The publishing of texts from outside the role at Essendon, irrelevant to their time working at Essendon and out of context, is defamatory and intended to be inflammatory to the media situation at the time.


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