Timeline of the AFL and Drugs Issue

Reference Material

Note: events without links attached are likely sourced from hearing transcripts, the AFL charge sheet, AFL annual reports or The Straight Dope.


  • 1990. The AFL introduces ints Anto Doping Code for the first time. The Federal Government creats ASDA.
  • 1997. Late in the 1997 AFL season, Justin Charles became the first AFL player to test positive to an anabolic steroid, boldenone. The AFL tribunal suspended him for 16 matches.
  • 2004 – Stephen Dank employed at Manly Warringah in the NRL.
  • 2005 – Dean Robinson begins consulting at Manly Warringah.
  • 2005 – February 14th. The AFL introduces its Illicit Drugs Policy, allowing for year round (44 weeks) testing, and a three strike policy.
  • 2005 – March 13. Brendon Gale confirms had had a conversation with a journalist who named a player and sought confirmation from Mr Gale that such player had tested positive to illicit drugs. At that time, Mr Gale did not know the names of any such persons.
  • 2005 – June 30. The AFL fails to meet a deadline imposed by the Federal Government to sign up to the WADA code. The WADA code does not provide for
    out-of-competition testing for illicit drugs, whereas the AFL tested throughout the year, and WADA imposed different penalties for marijuana use, whereas the AFL emphasised education and rehabilitation before sanctions for marijuana use.
  • 2005 – July 13. The AFL proposes a compromise on the WADA code issue.
  • 2005 – July 19. The AFL finally agrees to sign on to the WADA code and avoiding the possibility of losing federal funding of between 1 and 3 million dollars.
  • 2006 – Jan 1. The AFL amends and introduces the AFL Anti Doping Code 2006.
  • 2006 – March 7 – The Federal Government passes the ASADA Act 2006
  • 2006 – March 14. Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) replaced the Australian Sports Drug Agency. Besides education and testing, ASADA was given increased powers to conduct investigations, present cases at sporting tribunals, recommend sanctions, and approve and monitor sporting organisations’ anti-doping policies.
  • 2006 – March 14. Mr Gale was telephoned by the football manager of the “Kangaroos” football team who asserted that he knew the names of three players who had twice tested positive. That day Mr Gale sent an e-mail to Mr Anderson, the General Manager of Football Operations of the first defendant, expressing concern that a journalist had informed him, Mr Gale, that the names of the relevant players had been obtained easily.
  • 2006 – March 16. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper prepared an electronic version of an article “Reluctance to name is AFL’s shame” which referred to the named players.
  • 2006 – March 22. Three players are named as twice testing positive to illicit drugs on an internet forum.
  • 2006 – March 24. A thread was posted on a discussion forum naming a player and stating that he “knows a lot about ice”
  • 2006 – March 31. A thread was posted on a website whereby three players were named in the context of their not having been selected to play football as at that date. It was suggested by one anonymous contributor that one of them may have had a “nostril related hamstring”
  • 2006 – August 30. The Victorian Supreme Court rules in favour of the AFLs Illicit Drugs Policy. Justice Kellam said AFL footballers had agreed to be tested out of competition in the interests of the code’s illicit drugs policy, but on the proviso that the first two positive tests were confidential. “The public interest does not require, nor is it served by, the breach of such confidentiality,” he said.
  • 2007 – Geelong hire Dean Robinson as high performance coach
  • 2007 – September 28. The Australian reports that Geelong High performance coach Dean Robinson is in daily contact with Manly sports scientist Steve Dank.
  • 2007 – October 6. The Australian Government launched its Tough on Drugs illicit drugs in sport policy which provided a voluntary regime for out-of-competition testing for illicit drugs.
  • 2008 – March. The 2007 AFL Annual Report shows the results for the 12-month period from March, 2006, to February, 2007 and revealed a drop in incidence from 4 per cent to 1.9 per cent compared to the 12 months to February 2006, an extremely encouraging result. The operation of this policy has resulted in 25 players receiving
    intervention and treatment for use of illicit drugs
  • 2008 – August. The AFL Commission adopted a series of improvements and enhancements to its out-of-competition Illicit Drugs Policy and AFL players volunteered to step up their campaign against illicit drug use.
  • 2009 – March. The 2008 AFL Annual Report shows 14 failed tests from 1152, an incidence rate 1.2%. There were 3 failed second tests.
  • 2009 – July 27. Ian Robson leaves Hawthorn for Essendon.
  • 2010 – Stephen Dank sacked by Manly-Warringah, reportedly due to a disagreement over his methods – specifically as a result of a clash over attempts to administer an injection to former representative forward Josh Perry.
  • 2010 – March. The 2009 AFL Annual Report says The AFL again increased the number of Illicit Drug Policy tests in 2008 to a record 1220, with the rate of failed tests continuing its downward trend, falling to 0.98 per cent of all tests carried out
    – the first time it has dropped below one per cent since the policy began in 2005. No AFL player has recorded a third failed test in the four years of the Illicit Drug Policy. More than 3330 tests have been conducted since the policy was introduced.
  • 2010 – September 1. Travis Tuck becomes the first player suspended under the AFLs Illicit Drugs Policy, having attained a third strike. He is suspended for 12 months.
  • 2010 – September 28. James Hird appointed senior coach at Essendon.
  • 2010 – October 1. Dean Robinson begins working at Gold Coast AFL club. At about the same time Stephen Dank began consulting with Gold Coast.
  • 2010 – October 8. Danny Corcoran hired as Essendon football manager.
  • 2011 – March. The AFL 2010 Annual Report says that inn 2009, the AFL conducted its largest number of out-of-competition tests under the Illicit Drug Policy, raising test numbers to 1568 from the previous year’s figure of 1220, with a total of 14 failed tests. This represented 0.89 per cent of all tests conducted. Since the policy was introduced in 2005, the rate of failed tests has dropped each year from 4.03 per cent (2005), 1.85 per cent (2006), 1.2 per cent (2007), 0.98 per cent (2008) to 0.89 per cent (2009).  Two players recorded a second failed out-of-competition test in
    2009, and a total of 4898 tests have been conducted to February 2010
    since the policy was introduced.
  • 2011 – July/August. Mr. Dank met Mager Sedrak, a compounding chemist in Kogarah, Sydney. Subsequent to their meeting, Mr. Sedrak began supplying peptides to Mr. Dank.
  • 2011 – July 26. While a doping control officer is at Windy Hill testing players, he is approached by Essendon senior coach James Hird. Hird wants to know about peptides and which AFL clubs were using them. The drug tester couldn’t answer the question but made a note of the conversation.
  • 2011 – August. Mr. Dank — who had now left Gold Coast and was working with the Penrith Panthers—connected with Dr. Ijaz Khan and began treating a Penrith player named Sandor Earl. Earl alleged that Panthers’ strength and conditioning staff Matt Ryan and Carl Jennings told the players in 2011 that Dank was “consulting with the club … and helping with our programs”.
  • 2011 – August.- Shane Charter, a biochemist, met Nima Alavi, a compounding chemist at the Como Compounding Pharmacy (“Como”), and discussed with Mr. Alavi the prospect of becoming the potential supplier of pharmacy products to Mr. Charter’s `Dr. Ageless’ business. It appears that Mr. Dank first came into contact with Mr. Charter around this same time (i.e. August 2011).
  • 2011 – August 2.- Dank forwarded a text message to Robinson stating: “Hi mate. Just in consult for a shoulder reconstruction. This case will be of interest to you. We are utilizing Thymosin post surgically for one shoulder but prophylactically for the other. Thymosin is so effective in soft tissue maintenance.”

The AFL, Essendon and ASADA/WADA fun times.