Media face $10 million suit over Australia doping scandal
SYDNEY – A sports scientist at the center of doping allegations in Australia plans an Aus$10 million lawsuit against media outlets, with his lawyer Monday scathing of how investigations have been handled.
Stephen Dank claims he has been falsely accused of selling illegal drugs to sportspeople as part of a bombshell nationwide doping scandal after an official report said the use of prohibited substances was widespread.
Dank, co-owner of a Sydney anti-ageing clinic, has worked with both National Rugby League and Australian Rules football clubs. One of them, Essendon, is being investigated for supplying suspect supplements to its players.
Despite no charges, he has been widely portrayed by media as the villain of the piece but his lawyer Greg Stanton said it was unfair and he was launching a defamation claim against various, unnamed, outlets.
Stanton said he had concerns about the way the process had unfolded, with the Australian Crime Commission report, released Thursday, claiming the use of peptides, hormones and illicit drugs was common across multiple sporting codes.
“There are no specificities,” Stanton told ABC radio, adding that Dank had been provided with no information and was not aware of any investigation into him despite the media attention.
“What we do know is this: the government, hand in hand with the commission it would seem, is prepared to create a shadow and a cloud over people such as my client without any credible and reliable information being suggested, yet alone being made public.
“That is the gross injustice of what is occurring at this point in time.”
The official report indicated that sports scientists, coaches and support staff as well as doctors and pharmacists were involved in the provision of drugs, which were often supplied by organised criminal gangs.
But it did not name specific players, teams or codes due to legal reasons and concern has been growing that all sportspeople and those working with them are being tarred with the same brush.
On Sunday, Australian Rules football chiefs admitted the code was involved in the scandal, saying two clubs and a number of individual players had been implicated.
Separately, News Limited reported that six of Australia’s 16 National Rugby League sides had been named, citing confidential sources.
Cricket, football and rugby union authorities have insisted they were not under investigation.