Stephen Dank

Stephen Dank is an Australian biochemist who worked as a sports scientist with National Rugby League clubs, such as the Manly Sea Eagles; and Australian rules football clubs, such as the Essendon Football Club and the Gold Coast Suns.

Stephen Dank
OccupationBiochemist; sports scientist
Known forEssendon Football Club supplements saga

He is known for his unorthodox treatment and diagnostic methods, including using calf blood and profiling players' DNA.[1] Des Hasler described Dank as 'a great analytical thinker', in particular highlighting his contributions in the area of GPS application, statistical science, and altitude simulation training.[2] In light of his unorthodox treatment methods, in November 2016 Dank was given a life-long ban from association with the Australian Football League.[3]

Australian Football League doping scandal

In February 2013, Essendon announced that they had asked the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to investigate the supplements program that Dank had overseen at their club during the 2012 season. A former player, Kyle Reimers, had claimed that the players were asked to sign waivers and were injected with supplements that were "pushing the boundaries".[4] Another former player, Mark McVeigh countered that the injections were only vitamins and all were completely legal and not on any World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substance list. Dank left Essendon at the end of the 2012 season, and high-performance manager Dean 'The Weapon' Robinson was suspended from the club after the announcement of the investigation.[5] Stephen Dank controversially admitted to a Fairfax journalist that he had been using thymosin beta 4 on Essendon players. When journalist Nick McKenzie pointed out that that drug was prohibited by WADA under its S2 classification, Dank hesitated and then seemed extremely surprised: "Well, that must have just only come in this year and I will get someone to speak to ASADA about that. That's just mind-blowing." After 24 hours, Dank informed Fairfax media that he was actually really talking about thymomodulin which was a permitted substance.

In 2015, the AFL Tribunal found him guilty of trafficking in a number of illicit supplements and banned him from any association with the AFL for life. Since most Australian sporting organisations honour sanctions imposed by other leagues, this had the effect of blackballing Dank from major Australian sport.[6] Dank was found not guilty of twenty-one other charges, including trafficking charges and all charges related to administering the supplements.[7] Dank appealed the ten guilty verdicts against him, but the appeals were dismissed after Dank failed to attend the session scheduled for him with the AFL appeals board in November 2016.[8] WADA lodged an appeal against the twenty-one not guilty verdicts in June 2015.[9]

Following the publication of the Australian Crime Commission report into Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport,[10] lawyers acting for Dank launched a $10 million defamation suit alleging that a subsidiary of News Corporation had falsely accused him of providing illegal drugs to elite athletes and contributing to Jon Mannah's cancer relapse.[11][12][13] In March 2016, a jury found that most of the accusations were substantially true and that he had acted with "reckless indifference" to the health of players. His claims for defamation were rejected.[14]

Other controversies

Other proceedings are active before Australian courts regarding Dank's supply of thymosin beta on sportsmen. Findings were made that he supplied the drug to a Mr Earl by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2015; these proceedings are subject to appeal, but were noted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in their findings regarding the Essendon Football Club doping scandal.[15]

In July 2016, Dank was targeted by a drive-by shooting attack that injured him.[16]

In 2017 it was reported that Dank entered bankruptcy.[17]


  1. le Grand, Chip (7 February 2013). "Football's bad medicine". The Australian.
  2. Chammas, Michael. "Hasler backs Dank and Manly in the face of ACC findings". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. Connolly, Rohan (28 November 2016). "AFL throws out Stephen Dank appeal, ASADA goes whack". The Age. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  4. "Bombers to be investigated over supplements". 5 February 2013.
  5. "Essendon veteran Mark McVeigh backs the Bombers fitness program". Herald Sun. 6 February 2013.
  6. Warner, Michael (26 June 2015). "Stephen Dank cops life ban from AFL anti-doping tribunal". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  7. Warner, Michael; Baker, Grant (17 April 2015). "Stephen Dank found guilty by anti-doping tribunal — but not on all charges". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  8. Wood, Lauren (28 November 2016). "Stephen Dank appeal dismissed by AFL Anti-Doping Appeals Board". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  9. "WADA appeals Stephen Dank anti-doping tribunal ruling". The Age. Melbourne VIC. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  10. "Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport". Australian Crime Commission.
  11. "Sports scientist Stephen Dank launches $10m defamation claim". ABC News. Australia. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  12. "Sports doping claims prompts Dank to sue".
  13. Badel, Peter (9 February 2013). "Doctor at centre of Essendon doping allegations Stephen Dank breaks silence". The Courier-Mail.
  14. "Stephen Dank: 'Sports scientist' gave banned peptides to Cronulla Sharks players that may have accelerated Jon Mannah's death from cancer". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 16 March 2016.
  15. "Final Decision, WADA v Essendon Football Club and others" (PDF).
  16. "Shaken Dank out of hospital after shooting". ABC News. Australia. 22 July 2016.
  17. "Disgraced sports scientist Stephen Dank has been declared bankrupt". Fox Sports. Australia. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
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