Despite a text message trail that suggests he set out to test players with a new protein used only on horses, Stephen Dank is maintaining his innocence in the scandal that has cost 17 current AFL players their 2016 seasons.
Dank is seen as the architect of the anti-doping violations which finally caught up with 34 current and past Essendon players on Tuesday morning.
A Court of Arbitration for Sport decision ruled those players out for the upcoming season and had plenty of damning words for Dank.
One passage said Dank texted compound pharmacist Nima Alavi in August 2012 asking for “some help with this football team”.
Alavi replied describing a new `amazing’ polymer “being used in the USA for elite horse racing … I can even put the Thymosin and AOD in it”, to which Dank said “let us test a couple of players”.
The decision also states Dank asked former Essendon coach James Hird for help hiding the injection regime from the media.
WADA also submitted that two players recalled seeing Thymosin labels on vials in Dank’s fridge, and six players said Dank identified he was injecting Thymosin.
Dank was quoted by News Corp on Tuesday calling the CAS finding “laughable”.
“I never administered (thymosin beta-4), I didn’t source it and it was never given to them,” he said.
“There is no evidence that I gave it to them, there is no evidence I bought it or ever sourced it.
“They have been found guilty of taking it when there is absolutely no evidence to support the charge.”
The News Corp report says WADA did find abnormally high amounts of the banned substance in urine samples.
The CAS decision also quoted an April 2013 article in The Age in which Dank admitted to using Thymosin beta-4, which he later retracted “once it had been pointed out to him that TB-4 was a prohibited substance”.
CAS added that Dank’s supplements regime was designed for the whole team and Thymosin was touted as the jewel in the crown.
“He may have been a rogue, but there is no evidence that he was a fool,” CAS added.
Dank said he was acting with the full imprimatur of Essendon.
“Everything I have done was done with the full knowledge of the club, the hierarchy and the players.”
Dank, who was given a life ban by the AFL anti-doping tribunal for his role in the affair, also repeated his previous statement that he was preparing to sue media outlets.