Has anyone heard from Stephen Dank?

Questions on the Essendon supplement scandal yet to be addressed, consistent with the undetermined status of the issue (interim report)

 photo photo1_zps022ff1ea.jpg

HAS ANYONE HEARD from Stephen Dank?

Is drama football’s oxygen, on and off the field?

When James Hird looks in the mirror does he see himself cast in marble? Or would the allegations around the vials of Melanotan II have you believe bronze to be a more appropriate medium?

If Andrew Demetriou ‘tipped off’ Essendon on ASADA’s interest, was James Hird really that shocked to be sitting there? Did you believe the Essendon coach when he said as the leader of the football department he takes full responsibility for what happens within the football department? If so did you maintain that belief when Ian Robson stood down as CEO? When David Evans stood down as Chairman?

Could a thousand Big Footy crackpots with laptops, imagination and enough Red Bull turn the Essendon drama into a Shakespearian mini-series?

Are you on a first-name basis with Gillon McLachlan? Or are you a reader of The Age, and more familiar with the name “League Sources”? If integrity resides in failure, how do you rate the performance of the AFL’s Integrity Unit?

At what point is a gosling a goose? Did you know that James Hird was only in his second year of coaching when all this went down? What do you think James Hird will do next year? Do you expect to see him in your front yard, sweating through his overalls and espousing the benefits of not having to paint your house again for another 15 years? Will he take a holiday? Have you ever been to Mexico?

Can you buy muscular dystrophy drugs duty free? Did you know that that research intended to help people with muscle-wasting diseases could be about to launch a new era in performance-enhancing drugs and that several muscle-building drugs are now being tested in people with such diseases? Are you tempted to take your ex-girlfriend’s unlabeled medication that you stumbled upon in your bathroom cabinet? May I hasten to add that she was very fit, slim and tanned? If I told you I was trying to lose a few extra kilos and was intending to take such medication, would you think less of me, or would you praise my whatever it takes attitude?

Do you know a spade from a shovel? Can you tell the difference between regular Thymosin and Thymosin Beta-4? Would it help if I told you the former is used in the early diagnosis and treatment of high risk haemophiliacs with AIDS-like immune dysfunction and the latter is believed to play an important role in the repair and regeneration of damaged tissue?

I believe I asked you this before, but let me ask again as it is important: has anyone heard from Stephen Dank?

Would you say that financially, your affairs are in order? Are you in the red or in the black? Does $4,200 sound about right for 14 vials of Hexarelin? Is $61,000 too much to pay for hyperbaric treatments? If your receipt for the purchase of this book charged the correct amount but read ‘amino acids’, would you return to the bookstore to query it?

How seriously would you take a letter from your family doctor of 40 years? More seriously than an email? A text message? A televised testimonial from Mark McVeigh?

Do you recall the passion you had for football as a kid? When James Hird says he’s a person “who’s loved this club for a long time”, could you describe his involvement in Essendon’s supplement saga as a crime of passion? Do you recall when your belief in Santa fell apart? Is a belief in Santa a primer for belief in James Hird? Or are you a reader of the works of Max Weber, and when considering his tripartite classification of authority, think Santa of being a ‘traditional authority’, whereas the definition of ‘charismatic authority’ – resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person – is a more accurate sociological definition of #StandByHird.

Have you ever had to dig a deep hole? Did you see Jobe Watson’s appearance on On The Couch? Do you count calories? Given a choice, would you take AOD-9604 via injection or would you prefer to apply it as a cream?

Do you believe that ethics are contextual, whereas sport, unlike life, needs inflexibly defined rules?

Do you think there is a finer set of arms on a man other than Shaun Hampson? If I said to you “I have a pill that could strip fat, build muscle, increase sex drive and make you attractive to a beautiful woman who is also an ambassador for L’Oreal Paris, would you take it? Would you ask a lot of questions? Or would you simply say “shut up and give me the pill!”? Did you once take trucker-strength No-Doze™ before a game of suburban football in the genuine belief it would improve your reflexes? Or did you do it because you had spent the first half of the year in the reserves and just wanted to fit in? If your workplace ordered 8,000 doses of Tribulus, would it cross your mind to run it past HR? Your union? Or at the very least ask ‘what is Tribulus?’ Do you know what CJC-1295 refers to? GHRP6? OH&S?

If you hired a personal assistant and they came in on the first day and said, “I’ll be needing the name of a compound chemist and for you to get out of my way,” would you be concerned about your hire?

Has anyone heard from ASADA?

Has anyone heard from Stephen Dank?


This is an edited extract of the foreword to the 2013 Footy Almanac, Available now. Other forewords from Tim Boyle, David Hobson, Barb Smith, and a season review from John Harms.


About The People's Elbow

I'm just trying to make a difference in people's lives - get off my sack.


  1. T6LUjhbnPbFyx02iIHeW2Byhe_vuLFR-o05kExDmj0E. says:

    And do you think Tanya Hird has as many shoes as Imelda Marcos? Or more?

  2. Above Q from me. Don’t know about that T6LU biz. One of Harms’ attempts to sell info to the CIA i suspect.

  3. Whatever it takes AJC.

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    Superb piece. The best of many great pieces in the book.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Agreed Luke and it perfectly demonstrates how murky and grubby this whole saga has been and will continue to be

  6. Thanks, Luke.

    AJC, hard to get a read on Hird/Marcos. I have Tania at around 2,000+ pairs. Marcos’ collection has never truly been defined, ranging from 2,500-7,000. Then again, I’ve not factored any shoe arrangements that may have been brokered by Fitzpatrick, Wylie, Little et al.

  7. Keep running, Litza.
    It’s got marathon written all over it.

    Stinks worse than Monaghetti’s shoes.
    Hats off.

  8. Just a couple of questions Litza. Were we alone, here in the Wrap Cave, when we thanked the heavens that the foreword in The Almanac was possibly the epitaph of this now boring Melrose Drive misadventure?

    And who didn’t suspect the whole sorry saga that we had to endure last season was a charade from the very beginning – from the moment the Australian Federal Police warning on the implications of drugs in sport followed a couple of days after the EFC had ‘fessed up’ to having concerns over the legitimacy of their chemical enhancement program?

    And a supplementary question if I may Madame Speaker – in whose interest is it to drag Our Great Game through the muck again?

  9. Make the ball your objective.

  10. Wonderful piece, Litza. It said so many things so inarticulately that had been running randomly around my brain for months. And put all my conspiracy theories and fears together with several really original ones of your own.
    The highlight for me was reading your intro as my first piece in the book, and then JTH’s intro and conclusion to his good dream/bad dream summary of the season.
    Together they said everything I thought or needed to know about AFL 2013.
    I haven’t read anything more in the book since then.
    Though the Eagles season may also have been a contributing factor to my lack of interest.
    Litza – What is your opinion on Robinson/Dank at Geelong? I reckon there is a lot of legs in that story, and we owe it to the Almanac to keep the investigative journalism/sensationalist drivel bubbling along.

  11. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Super effort, Litza.

    Tanya Hird has at least shown some balls in this sorry saga, unlike many at Essendon. They shrank along with Dank.

  12. Has Tanya grown plums as a result of tucking into some of that unlabeled medication?

    PB – I don’t put a lot in the Geelong stuff due to the likes of Brian Cook, Neil Balme et al. It’s a well run club with checks and balances *types through gnashing of teeth*

  13. Sorry, Tania, not Tanya – tom-ayto, tom-ahto, Thymosin, Thymosin Beta-4…

  14. Perfect Match – A commercial lawyer meets a narcissist.

  15. Out damned spot.

  16. AJC – well said. In similar vein – CEO musings:
    “I am in blood steeped so far that to return would be as tedious as go ‘oer”

  17. I am in Thymosin Beta 4/ Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er”

  18. The best thing about being a writer about sport rather a sportsman or lady is the wider range of performance enhancing drugs.

  19. Love when you write in this style Litza. Superb stuff and it being Essendon in your periscope sights made it all the more enjoyable.

  20. Litza,, I did OHS in a workplace and had to display 7 pages of data in the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the Spray and Wipe for the office or else Worksafe could come down on the company like a ton of bricks. How a company like Essendon still exists when it can’t account for 2% of the stuff INJECTED in to players baffles me. So Football clubs are above the rules that govern normal work places?

  21. I can’t remember being angrier about anything in AFL than the ‘wet lettuce slap’ of Essendon and Hird in particular.
    I was hoping we could move on for next season, but now that the true nature of the AFL ‘sanctions’ is revealed I am really hoping that ASADA throws the book at them.
    Hird deserves life, and we need a 17 team season for a couple of years to teach the AFL and clubs/coaches that they are NOT GOD.
    Player welfare and a fair competition not based on technological edges need to come first.
    I feel really sorry for the Essendon players and fans who will be the unfair victims of that outcome – but the AFL has shown itself incompetent and incapable of real sanctions.
    Mike Fitzpatrick needs to grow some goolies and put the game above commercial interests. Sack Demetriou for incompetence on the legal and ethical handling of the issue, with NO GOLDEN HANDSHAKE.
    I will write some more on this when I calm down.

  22. Hear hear.
    This episode has gone darkly from incomprehensible to all-too-comprehensible.
    Looking forward to the right people with the right powers asking the right questions.
    Keep it up. Keep the fire burning.

  23. Nice piece Litza. As for the chicken little ramblings of Peter B.. oh dear .

  24. The sky is falling. The sky is falling,
    Happy Festivus, JA.

  25. In the beginning he was as surprised to be sitting there as anyone. But assured us that, as head of all things football, the buck stopped with him. Then spent six months ensuring it stopped with everyone but him.
    We don’t know the full repercussions yet, of course.
    We do know everyone but The Guy Who The Buck Supposedly Stopped With is gone. The saga cost the club something like 4mill in fines, legals, lost rev and sponsorship. Then, as the club posts a 2mill operating loss for the year, the TGWTBSSW puts his hand out for 3/4mill to do SFA.
    Do any of you reading this know anyone who would do that?
    Do any of you know Geoff Edelstein? Bill Vlahos? Don King? Allan Bond? Keep a place at their Xmas table for TGWTBSSW.

  26. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Someone might have heard from ASADA today

  27. Hello Thymosin Beta-4….!

  28. Andrew Starkie says:

    In defence of SD, he did say he will answer all of our questions. In court. AFL, ASADA etc don’t want to go to court in case the truth comes out.

  29. Ripsnorter says:

    The real question that will keep the academics going for years should be:

    Was Dean wallis a better footballer or was he a more a natural administrator ?

    I am not sure what dank really has to do with anything. The players and the players alone are the most at the fault – no one would want to hear the excuse from Lance Armstrong that the doctor or team bosses put him up to it

    Do we all really believe that Tim Watson who has done nothing else for the last 35 years except be involved in football never asker his son the captain of the essendon football team about what they did for sports science at the club

    Was anyone really shocked by the whole thing or is it just part of professional sports ?

    Does anyone really care anyway as essendon have been fairly irrelevant on the pitch for the past ten years ?

Leave a Comment