The Essendon saga: too many unanswered questions

The findings of theAFL anti-doping tribunal that the Essendon players are not guilty of using banned substances has been greeted joyously by the Essendon club and supporters.

The mantra from now on will be “It’s time to move on” and certainly the Essendon football club and the players will be glad to put this whole sad, sorry and rather sordid situation behind them.

But questions remain. And will continue to remain because no one is going to clear them up.

Why was that 34 grown men were having substances injected into them by Stephen Dank and not one of them saw fit to ask him: “What’s in the syringe?”

 Essendon's players: no one thought to ask
Essendon’s players: no one thought to ask

Are they all that trusting, gullible, stupid or unconcerned? It’s very hard to believe.

But the matter that is the most concerning is that the whole case rested on the fact that there were no records available to the tribunal of the injection regime.

We are led to believe that there were no records kept.

This is obviously nonsense.

Stephen Dank must have kept records.

Surely he wasn’t injecting the players without recording their names or without recording what he had given them. Stephen Dank almost certainly has extensive and comprehensive records. The problem is that the anti-doping tribunal could not compel him to release them. And he certainly wasn’t going to volunteer them.

 Stephen Dank's role in the Essendon doping scandal wiil probably never been made public
Stephen Dank’s role in the Essendon doping scandal wiil probably never been made public

Nonetheless, having these records available for public scrutiny would not prove that the players had known what though being injected with.

Clearly the AFL needs to make sure that its doping rules place the onus on the players to know what supplements they are taking and on the clubs to make sure that the players are informed.

And it is clear that the AFL will now need to have a much greater degree of surveillance to ensure there are no more shadowy figures like Stephen Dank running clandestine doping programmes on young, gullible footballers.

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan
AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan has a lot of work to do to restore the AFL’s tattered reputation on illegal substance abuse and doping.

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