Peter FitzSimons: A league of their own – it won’t last

SPEAKING of the NRL and its administration or lack thereof, my pound to your peanut says there will be a change in their scheduling next year. I refer to the A-League grand final being on when the leaguies had just about nothing on against it. In fact, just about nothing the whole weekend! There was the Kiwis Test on Friday night, which is always about as fifth as good as a State of Origin; a ”World Cup” game (no, really) between Samoa and Tonga; and was it the City-Country thing that only drew 4000? The net result, of course, was that the sleeping giant of Australian sport, soccer – now obviously awoken – was given a free kick.
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The AFL might feel equally aggrieved with the weekend. While the Wanderers have clearly captured the imagination of western Sydney and seem to have acted as a unifying force on a highly diverse population – even as they went within a whisker of winning the whole competition – the GWS Giants played to a paltry crowd and managed to become the only team to lose to the Melbourne Demons. And rugby in all that? Obviously struggling across the board. Crowds of 11,000 to 16,000 for the Waratahs speaks for itself. But, last weekend, at least a pulse! Queensland and the Brumbies played themselves to a standstill in a game where penalty goals were eschewed in favour of running the ball, and a fantastic game resulted.

BANNED DRUGS

Two months ago, as this column noted at the time, NSW Minister for Sport Graham Annesley was called with other sports ministers for an emergency briefing by the ACC on where the investigation into drugs in sport was up to. Coming out of the meeting, he went straight into a live cross with Channel Nine, where there appeared to be an expectation among panellists that he would confirm there was not much to it. But no. When host Karl Stefanovic asked the former league referee his thoughts, the obviously shellshocked Annesley replied: ”[It’s] quite serious … and scary in some ways.” Interviewed a couple of days later on the ABC why the ACC and ASADA had made their announcement seemingly so early, Annesley replied that it was better to go early than, ”have to explain to the coroner why we announced too late”. Tragically, this week, we may have seen something of what Annesley was referring to – the potentially lethal consequences of taking supplements on the banned list.

It is, of course, way too early to determine if – as reported yesterday – there might have been a causal link between the peptides and Cronulla player Jon Mannah in 2011, and the return of the cancer that killed him. In fact, it has not been confirmed that Mannah did receive any of the substances. However, it does highlight the fact that all the concern about such drugs is not simply to do with their effect on sport. The reason a lot of them are on the banned list is because they are dangerous and potentially fatal. If that link is established in this case, it will move the whole terrible saga into an entirely different realm. And there really will be a lot of explaining that needs to be done to the coroner.

Annesley’s words are looking tragically prophetic.

THE POINT IS?

Who knew? After TFF wondered idly last week why the AFL gives out four points for a win and two points for a draw, some readers pointed out that, pretty much across the world, soccer gives out three points for a win and one each only for a draw. Why, I wonder?

TOSSERS INC.

Dear TFF

Those bunch of d—heads prancing about a pub betting on the TAB and, of course, winning and ”impressing” the ladies, are in many ways just as annoying as the Tom Waterhouse ads. The TAB ad pretends the beautiful people are smiling indulgently at the d—heads – but that just proves what loveable, and winning, d—heads they are. Just shows you don’t have to do anything meaningful or challenging in life to be both loveable and a winner. Right?

Regards

Mike Sandy

NO EXCUSES

A point of order, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew, re your remarks after All Blacks and Hurricanes winger Julian Savea was charged last week with assaulting his partner. ”Without judging the rights or wrongs of this case,” you said, ”we are concerned that this is another incident involving a young player. We need to find out whether we are doing enough to help these young men cope with the pressures of the professional game.”

Can I say a word? That word is: ”Nuh.” Steve, that almost sounds like you’re excusing it. And yes I know that Savea has publicly apologised and begged his partner and her family for forgiveness, but the point remains. Playing a game for a few hundred grand a year, and being internationally famous is not ”pressure”.

Raising a family of five on the basic wage is pressure. And in either case, whatever the situation, real men do NOT hit women. No excuses, no exceptions. And of course it is for the courts to judge his guilt or innocence, beyond reasonable doubt. But the standard of proof required to stand him down from the team is a lot less.

Savea played last weekend, despite the Hurricanes knowing of the incident. He is due to play this weekend. A man who hits a woman sullies the jersey he wears. He should be stood down for a long time, perhaps doing volunteer work in a women’s refuge.What they said

Ray Hadley on NRL chief Dave Smith: “I will tell you what you want to do Dave; pull your head out of your bum and build closer links with the grassroots of the game, the people who will pay your wages for the next two decades.” And welcome to rugby league, by the way.

Former NRL chief David Moffett: “It’s like a coach losing the dressing room. I feel sorry for Dave Smith. He was pitched into a job that his background would indicate he’s not suited for or prepared for. It’s one of the toughest gigs in world sport. It will end in tears.”

Dave Smith on the structural changes he has made to the administrations: “But I feel really pleased that I put my stamp on it. This is me, this is Dave Smith, this is his leadership structure.” Talking about yourself in the third person? Mate, you’re going to fit right in.

Chris Gayle showing how it is done, after his unbeaten 175 runs from 66 balls: “Everything just worked for Chris Gayle today … I’m an entertainer, I try to entertain as much as possible.” Deep sigh. Thousand yard stare into the distance.

James Magnussen in an interview: “The Missile is a more confident and aggressive character than I am. The problem in and before London was my everyday life didn’t diverge from that persona.” Magnussen is my bet to recapture Australia’s affection, and still be selling undies when he is 40.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick on their poor training last week: “We didn’t train well, but does that get taken into the game? I wouldn’t think so. It happens all the time; sometimes I like to make love to my wife, I don’t always perform at a high standard.” Across Australia, men shifted uncomfortably.

These lines were on the back of a T-shirt of a man struggling along in the London Marathon: “50. Fat. Diabetic. Ahead of you.”

Former Test umpire Dickie Bird, who turned 80 last week: “The characters have gone out of all sports haven’t they? There’s no [Allan] Lambs, [Ian] Bothams or Dennis Lillees any more. We used to have a laugh in Test matches, which they don’t today – they don’t even smile.”

Kiwi rugby commentator, as the Queensland Reds put the Waikato Chiefs to the sword: “Genia, he’s been busier than a fiddler’s elbow tonight.”

George Smith on how much more rugby he has in him: “I don’t want to sound like Johnny Farnham.”

Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo on NFL players coming out. “I think it will happen sooner than you think. We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now, and they’re trying to be organised so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy.”

Team of the week

Chris Gayle. In a game of bubblegum cricket in the IPL, the West Indian finished 175 not out from 66 balls, including 13×4, 17×6.

Jesse Williams. The Australian looks likely to be drafted to the NFL.

Melbourne Demons. Celebrated their win over Greater Western Sydney as if they won the grand final and to be fair it probably was.

Mike Denness. The only Scottish born captain of an English cricket team passed away last week. Denness once told the story of a letter addressed to him: “Mike Denness, Cricketer”. “If this letter reaches you,” it said, “the Post Office think more of you than I do.”

Central Coast Mariners. Finally savoured a grand final win and showed all knuckle-dragging Neanderthals of the other football codes – oh gawd, we hate you bastards! – just how well attended and enthusiastic a grand final crowd can be. And only 21 people arrested!

Mid North Coast Axemen. Just had their first victory in 13 years in the Country Rugby Championships. They defeated Western Plains 47-24. Let the word go forth from this place and this time: NO ONE beats the Axemen 14 years in a row! And good on yers.

The 18th Australian National Balloon Championships. Drew three times the crowd in Canowindra than rugby league’s City-Country game drew to Coffs Harbour.

RIP Margaret ”Nan” Barnes. (1919-2013). The greatest Cronulla Sharks supporter, ever, passed away last week. Vale.

Brumbies and Reds. Last Saturday night, the two teams played a cracker, spoilt only by the fact that itfinished in a draw.

Nic White. You all know the Beatles lyric: “Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy.” The Brumbies halfback looks like a terrier, thinks he’s a cross between an Alsatian and a sheepdog, but everyone can see he’s a great rugby player. And he should be Will Genia’s understudy in the Wallabies.

Jesse Mogg. Should be the Wallabies fullback. One of those blokes who sends a current through the crowd every time he touches the ball.

RIP Barry Taylor. 1935-2013. The well known Australian U/21, Manly and NSW Waratahs coach passed away on Wednesday. On ya, Tizza. You were a one-off.

Dank was ‘assured’ over Mannah supplements

‘Shattered’: Dank says his pain is with Jon Mannah’s family. Photo: Tim Clayton Sports scientist Stephen Dank believes he never compromised Jon Mannah’s health and says he consulted a leading oncologist before administering the late Cronulla forward with supplements.
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Cronulla’s supplement program has come under further scrutiny after a leaked internal report raised concerns of a potential causal link to Mannah’s fatal cancer. The front-rower, who played 24 games for the club between 2009 and 2011, died in January following a relapse of his Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Dank, who worked at the club during 2011, said he was “assured” that any treatments he administered to Mannah would not affect his health. “My sympathies to the family,” Dank said. “I consulted an oncologist in relation to treatments. I was assured what was being used wouldn’t affect Jon’s condition. Jon knew what was being conducted. We would never deliberately do anything to contribute to Jon’s illness, whether it be to accelerate or restore it.

“I’m shattered for the family more than for my own reputation or the damages it might have caused me. My greater pain is for the family at this difficult time.”

An independent report prepared by former ASADA deputy chair Tricia Kavanagh provides a timeline of events in an extensive document. Darren Kane, a sports and commercial lawyer at Colin W Love & Company Lawyers, was engaged by the Sharks to review it and report back to the board with any legal issues.

His leaked advice included the following: “A brief review of available published medical literature suggests an identified causal link between the use of substances such as CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 and the acceleration of the condition of disease Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Without knowing anything further about Mannah’s exact medical history and without seeking expert opinion from an appropriately qualified oncologist it is difficult to take this issue further. The issue of Mannah has the potential to be as serious as matters could get.”

Kane said he was not in a position to discuss the matter. “In respect to anything I have done for the club, it is all covered by legal professional privilege and that’s a privilege only a client can waive,” he said.

The developments prompted the Cancer Council Australia to release the following statement: “Based on an assessment of the evidence available, Cancer Council Australia says there isn’t any link between HGH-promoting peptides and a relapse or onset of lymphoma.”

The Sharks Unity ticket, which swept to power during the recent elections, campaigned strongly on the platform that the decision to sack four key staff members would be reviewed. It is unclear whether recent developments have changed that stance.

Meanwhile, directions were heard for a civil defamation action in the Supreme Court on Friday launched by Dank against Cronulla-Sutherland District Rugby League Football Club Ltd. It is understood further legal proceedings will be launched by the sports scientist as a result of News Ltd’s initial report about a possible link between Dank’s administration of supplements and Mannah’s death.

Twitter @proshenks

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

I’m ready for the No.7 spot: Faulkner

Ashes tourist James Faulkner believes he is capable of holding down the number seven position against England, and he won’t be a shrinking violet if he gets the chance.
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Faulkner’s main skill is his slippery brand of left-arm pace, but questions about the form of Shane Watson and matters of team balance mean he could also be called upon to play a significant role with the bat.

Faulkner, the only uncapped player in the Ashes squad, said his batting had improved enough for him to feel comfortable slotting in at seven.

Tasmania was prepared to bat him in the top six for much of the summer before last, and he is coming off a 444-run Sheffield Shield season spent at seven and eight, culminating with 89 in the final against Queensland.

“I would be definitely be comfortable to bat No.7,” said Faulkner, “Wherever you can slot into an Australian team, I think you are pretty happy to play wherever you can. It was a reasonably successful year last year for Tasmania with the bat and hopefully I can make a few more big scores, that’s my aim at the moment.”

As national selector John Inverarity intimated when he described Faulkner, who turns 23 this month, as “a very competitive cricketer who gets things done”, he will bring a forceful attitude that has sometimes been missing from recent Australian teams.

“I like to think I’m a pretty strong competitor on the field and off the field I’m a pretty relaxed sort of character,” Faulkner said from India, where he is playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.

“When the game is on the line, I’m pretty aggressive. I get on the front foot instead of being dictated to.”

Unlike many talented youngsters who get swept along by the Twenty20 wave, Faulkner has established a solid first-class career, averaging 22.34 with the ball and 29.11 with the bat, while earning a taste of international cricket in the shorter forms.

He is likely to continue his ODI career at the Champions Trophy in June, which precedes the Ashes.

“I’ve always tried to be as consistent as I can across T20, one-day cricket and four-day cricket and not specifically have a focus on any of the three. The IPL has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for all the countries … but I look at it as an opportunity to progress my cricket on different wickets. You get experience pretty fast,” Faulkner said.

“It doesn’t get any higher than Test cricket. I’ve been thrilled to play a couple of T20s for Australia and a full ODI series against the West Indies, I really enjoyed it and it tested my game out. But it’s a whole new ball game now with Test cricket.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Scientist set to sue Demetriou

Stephen Dank is preparing to take the AFL’s chief executive, Andrew Demetriou, to the Supreme Court in a defamation case expected to be lodged by the sports scientist’s legal team within a month.
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”He is on our list of those to bring an action against,” one of Dank’s lawyers told Fairfax Media on Friday. ”We propose to bring a defamation action against Andrew Demetriou on the grounds of him denigrating Mr Dank, and accusing him of all sorts of things he didn’t do. That will definitely be going ahead.”

The lawyer acting for Dank, who asked not to be named, said his client was also considering launching Federal Court proceedings against the Essendon Football Club for a breach of trade practices laws. The basis of that claim would centre on the written contract Dank had with the Bombers. The member of Dank’s legal team said there was an agreement between his client and the club that his contract would be reviewed after a year – and possibly extended by another year – but he was never given such an opportunity.

”We don’t want to bring any case we’re not certain of winning,” the lawyer acting for Dank said. ”I’m not as sure about the breach-of-contract case against Essendon as I am about the other guy, Demetriou. But we’ll make up our mind about the contract case with Essendon in the next two weeks.

”The case with Essendon is not as clear cut. His contract’s in writing and it does refer to a review, and he didn’t get a review, he just got the sack.”

An AFL spokesman would not comment when contacted on Friday about Dank’s plan to sue Demetriou.

The proposed legal action against Essendon shapes to worsen the messy fallout of the club’s supplements program that Dank masterminded and oversaw between 2011 and 2012, which is now under investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Dank has an array of written evidence that Essendon – and specifically coach James Hird – was delighted with the scientist’s work early last year before the team ultimately capitulated after a confounding string of soft-tissue injuries crippled the side. The Bombers won eight of their first nine matches in 2012 but lost 10 of their remaining 13.

Dank was sacked before the end of the season, after about nine months’ work at Essendon, apparently due to a dispute over unauthorised expenses. It has been estimated the club’s budget for supplements was exceeded by about $100,000.

Dank’s grievance with Demetriou is understood to centre on comments made by the AFL chief a fortnight ago when he lamented the ”potential injurious nature” of the substances given to Bomber players.

Responding to the revelations in a Fairfax Media report where Dank listed what he had prescribed at Essendon, Demetriou also said: ”I’m horrified as a parent that – if true – young men were being injected with these substances.

”It’s a terribly disturbing situation.”

Dank maintains his program at Essendon complied with World Anti-Doping Agency rules, and Hird has said repeatedly that he trusted his advice that everything players received in the program – conducted largely in secret – was above board.

Dank’s lawyers have launched claims of more than $10 million against various media outlets, alleging he has been falsely accused of selling illegal drugs to sportspeople.

Dealing with Dank

Parts of the puzzle? (clockwise from above): Stephen Dank, Andrew Demetriou, Neil Craig, Cameron Schwab, Gillon McLachlan and Jack Trengove.The AFL’s second most powerful official is not known for flashes of anger. But when a delegation of Melbourne officials told Gillon McLachlan during a confidential meeting in late February that the club’s doctor had been communicating with sports scientist Stephen Dank, the usually composed McLachlan reacted testily: ”It’s not still going on is it?”
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During the past week, the question of what role Dank played at the Demons has left the struggling club accused of a cover-up.

The Demons now face the prospect of being sanctioned by the AFL and one of its senior players being investigated by doping authorities. But was there a club-wide cover-up or attempt to mislead the league by several of its officials? Or does the club’s predicament flow more from a doctor’s serious blunder and how that has played into a rolling scandal?

One of the few certainties in the Dank affair is that things are mostly uncertain. The narrative remains short on hard, publicly verifiable evidence and is forming like a tricky jigsaw puzzle, which is far from complete.

On February 5, McLachlan called Melbourne CEO Cameron Schwab to inquire about rumours Dank was hanging around the club. The same day, Essendon held a short press conference to detail its concerns about the supplement program Dank had previously implemented at the Bombers.

Schwab told McLachlan he’d never heard of Dank but later called McLachlan back and told him – according to notes retained by Schwab – that Demons doctor Dan Bates had ”communications” with Dank and the club had considered employing him. McLachlan advised Schwab to immediately jettison the sports scientist.

Two days later, it became clear why. The federal government released the results of a year-long inquiry into what it described as widespread doping in sport.

While naming no names and providing no hard evidence, the report by the all-powerful Australian Crime Commission deals extensively with the work of Dank.

Three weeks later, on February 25, a Demons delegation met McLachlan and two other senior AFL officials. Melbourne was represented by Schwab, president Don McLardy, coach Mark Neeld and senior managers Neil Craig and Josh Mahoney.

The club’s internal file notes of the meeting detail McLachlan’s question about whether Dank was still dealing with Bates and also the club’s response that the association had ended on February 5 but that, before then, the pair had been communicating.

Schwab’s handwritten notes also state the Melbourne officials were told that the AFL planned to interview Bates (the notes read: ”Dan Bates – conversation with AFL investigators”) and that the AFL knew far more about Dank than it could let on.

A confidential AFL record of the meeting shows that the league documented admissions from the Demons’ delegation that its players had been injected with supplements at an external location but that this ”off-site injecting has stopped”.

It is not clear whether Dank’s association with this injecting program was mentioned; if it was, the full details of Dank’s association with Bates – if they were known to any of the Melbourne officials present- were not conveyed to the AFL at this meeting.

But Melbourne did reveal that one its directors, David Thurin, was conducting a review for the club’s board into the use of ”non-prescription medication … qualifications of staff [and] procedures”.

The meeting finished cordially. Melbourne’s next dealing with the AFL a few weeks later would be less so.

Meanwhile, Thurin, a former obstetrician who married into the billionaire Gandel clan and is described by colleagues as ”meticulous”, ramped up his inquiries. First on his list was Bates. The doctor said that before February 5, he’d had numerous dealings with Dank, as the sports scientist had repeatedly impressed upon the doctor his knowledge and employability.

Bates said that, after discussions with Dank and doing some of his own research, he had sent players to be injected with vitamins B and C and anti-oxidant Glutathione (substances all approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency).

Bates told Thurin he wanted the injections to take place at a health centre he was familiar with, but that Dank convinced him he could get a cheaper price at a clinic in Melbourne’s north. When the players arrived at the Gladstone Park Medical Clinic to be injected by a registered nurse, Dank was waiting in the centre’s foyer.

In late 2012 or early 2013, Dank also floated with Bates the prospect of Dank’s favoured supplier, chemist Nima Alavi, sponsoring the Demons, and discussed two longer-term projects; the first involved regulating players’ testosterone levels and the second improving their resistance to colds and flu.

Dank was told the club might be interested in adopting these programs if certain conditions were met. Dank never got a chance to respond in detail.

On February 5, Bates sent Dank a text telling him the pair could no longer communicate. While Bates had held out the possibility of paid work, Dank was never given a cent.

Thurin’s final report to his fellow Melbourne directors was presented on March 19 and contained a full-page devoted to Dank. ”It was comprehensive,” says one person who has read it.

But what no one on the board knew was that it was also missing a crucial piece of information. The same piece of information was also missing from the list of supplements the club had earlier provided the AFL. In withholding this information from Thurin, Bates had created a time bomb.

It exploded 10 days ago, when the ABC’s 7.30 program broadcast text messages between Bates and Dank, who had been busy leaking his phone communications to media outlets that he perceived as friendly (including Fairfax Media).

The 7.30 program aired texts that referenced six controversial supplements, none of which were vitamins or anti-oxidants.

”Melbourne must have breathed a sigh of relief that its supplements program had gone undetected … until now,” 7.30 reported.

To further this claim, the program referred to a short public statement about Dank made by the Demons on February 5, which focused on the fact that Dank’s efforts to be employed had failed and that he had no direct involvement in the treatment or training of its players.

The claims on the program infuriated AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, who immediately issued a statement saying the AFL was ”urgently seeking a further explanation from Melbourne Football Club about the veracity of the claims [on 7.30] and how they can be reconciled with previous statements from the club”.

Melbourne was also shocked. That same night, as rain fell outside, senior Demons officials assembled at the club’s headquarters. It wasn’t all bad: the Demons officials quickly confirmed that five of the six supplements named in the texts had never been used on players.

The story of the sixth supplement was different. After speaking with Dank in December 2012, Bates had arranged for co-captain Jack Trengove to have a foot injury treated with a single tube of cream containing anti-obesity drug AOD9604, to be supplied by Dank’s favoured chemist.

Bates had failed to tell Thurin about this. And while he had spoken to Thurin about his texts, calls and emails with Dank, he hadn’t relayed the full details of these communications.

The next morning was an ugly one for the club. Demetriou said in a radio interview that Melbourne would be in breach of league rules if the club had lied to his officials about Dank.

”If there was an association [between Dank and Bates], regardless of whether there has been an employment agreement, I think that would have been relevant to our briefings,” said Demetriou. ”This issue of ethics and trust in our code … is something that you can’t play ping-pong with.”

The comments were seized upon in the media and the cover-up drums began beating hard.

A senior official at the club agrees that Bates’ conduct is serious, but says that Demons officials are furious that the AFL has not publicly acknowledged that in February the club did pass on details to McLachlan about Dank’s links to Bates and Thurin’s planned review.

Club insiders say that the AFL never requested a copy of this review and did not send an investigator to interview Bates until the day after 7.30 aired. That same day, Bates stood down from the club.

Says the senior official: ”We are a football club, not an investigation agency. The AFL and the government have all the powers to do in-depth investigations and they keep saying that they know more than everybody else. To say that the club as a whole tried to cover anything up or mislead the AFL is a joke.”

The AFL’s private view is that, given the seriousness of the issues involved, Melbourne should have passed every detail on to the league as soon as they came to light, including the information about Dank discovered by Thurin.

There are also questions about whether Craig or any other Demons officials did not disclose all that they knew about Dank at the February 25 meeting with McLachlan or in the subsequent weeks.

Whether the club will face sanctions is an open question. The Demons’ most clear and present danger is the move this week by WADA to declare anti-obesity drug AOD9604 a banned substance.

This does not mean Trengove or the Essendon players who took it will be charged, as any such prosecution would face serious legal hurdles.

But for the players it increases the stomach-churning uncertainty that has become the hallmark of the entire doping scandal.

Replace the sin bin with a swearing jar

A fortnight after Adam Scott won the US Masters, amateur lip readers around the country are still in thrall over what the Australian golfer bellowed when he nailed a putt to put him on track to win the tournament.
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Be it his patriotic ”Come on, Aussie” or merely an excitable ”Yabbadabbadooo!”, it’s a pity footballers don’t leave us with the same sense of mystery when the cameras pull in tight to catch their every emotion at key moments.

Every weekend, without fail, some hunk or other will fumble the ball, miss a goal, get the rough end of the ref’s whistle or generally stuff up, and, sure enough, the camera will zoom in to capture the agony only to cop an unmistakable spit-laden silent expletive.

You don’t need to be a professional lip reader, or even deaf, for that matter, to figure out what has just been said. The experts in the commentary box might drily note that player X has just ”expressed his frustration”. But you and I fancy we know a little better.

Now, I like to drop a good F bomb as much as the next person. There’s something about the release of tension a good cuss allows when you just need to get something off your chest.

You don’t need to have sat alongside me in the car to know my standard retort when a traffic light teases and then taunts me. But the presence of a three-year-old behind me has seen me convert to the more sober ”crumbs”.

Years ago, I worked in an office where one of the administration staff who was deaf tipped me off to the issue of lip-reading footy players. I remember asking her once what she did on the weekend and she told me she’d watched the footy. We started talking about the game. After a quick analysis, she started giggling. When I asked why, she said, because they all swear so much. I asked her how she knew. I lip read them, she said. And sure enough, ever since, I’ve been taken by the incessant F-bombing of our footy players.

Score a try? Nail a goal? You effing beauty! F. Drop the ball? F. Dud call from the ref? F. It’s the standard emotion for good and bad.

Of late it’s become incessant with ever closer camera angles and now, heaven forbid, microphones on the field trailing players back to their marks. Swearing will always be a part of sport. And particularly, Australian sport. Let’s be frank. We are world champion cussers.

But with sports forever trying to come up with a way to improve their image, I suspect there’s a terrific marketing opportunity going to waste here for all the winter sports that dominate our TV. I’ve never understood why none of the footy codes has embraced a charity swear jar. With the countless replays of tries, king hits, goals and frustrations, the silent F bombs get replayed repeatedly.

And there’s an awful lot of footy fans – professional lip readers and amateurs – who know exactly what is being said. Often with a few blushing kids sitting alongside them on the living-room couch. So every time a player gets caught mouthing the unmistakable, why don’t footy administrators, or TV footy shows, encourage the player to make a donation to a charity? Perhaps a charity for the deaf. After all, they’re the ones who have known exactly what Scott said when he nailed that putt.

If a swear jar is good enough for the kids at home, it’s hard to see why our highly paid sports people can’t set a slightly better example on a field where, frankly, nobody expects them to stop swearing. It’s all part of the passion, after all.

But at least when they’re caught in a super slow-mo replay mouthing a toothless F bomb, we can laugh at ourselves and acknowledge that it’s perhaps not the most gentlemanly thing to do, especially when an awful lot of people know exactly what they’re saying.

A dollar – or 10, or a few hundred – in the swear jar for deaf kids would be the perfect response. Either that, or convert them all to saying crumbs.

Michael Evans is a Herald journalist.

Essendon finds bill for banned drug

Essendon Football Club has discovered in its records an invoice for the banned performance-enhancing supplement Hexarelin.
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Fairfax Media can also reveal that an elite Australian athlete managed by one of the club’s top officials received vitamin injections at the same clinic used by the Bombers and its sports scientist, Steven Dank.

In other revelations about the Essendon and Melbourne football clubs, it can be reported that:

•Mr Dank’s lawyers have signalled they plan to sue AFL chief   Andrew Demetriou for defamation.  They are also examining whether they can sue the Bombers over the way they sacked Mr Dank last September.

•Confidential documents show  the Demons told league officials in February that their club doctor, Dan Bates, had “communications” with Mr Dank and that players had been given vitamin injections at an external  clinic.

•Dr Bates failed to disclose in an internal club review  in March that he had asked co-captain Jack Trengove to use a cream containing an anti-obesity drug   banned by doping authorities this week.

The failure by anyone at Essendon to raise the alarm over  the Hexaralin invoice  is one of several  internal club failings that exposed Bombers players to a supplement program that included potentially banned or harmful drugs.

The governance failure extended to senior staff at the club giving  uncritical support for Mr Dank’s methods. These same staff have since  disowned Mr Dank and described his practices as “shocking”.

Essendon senior football official  Danny Corcoran, the former head of Athletics Australia, demonstrated his endorsement of Mr Dank’s methods by sending  an elite Australian athlete who he manages  to a health clinic opposite the club to receive  vitamin injections.  Mr Dank never injected the athlete, who is an Olympic hopeful and was ill at the time.

The same Windy Hill clinic, run by Dr Paul Spano, was used by Mr Dank to administer vitamins intravenously to Essendon  players.

On Friday, Mr Dank admitted giving Cronulla Sharks rugby league player Jon Mannah supplements, but said he never compromised the health of the front-rower, who died in January following a relapse of his Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A leaked report on  Cronulla’s supplement program, which Mr Dank ran in 2011 while employed by the Sharks,  raised concerns of a potential causal link to Mannah’s fatal cancer.

The use of vitamins by athletes and football players is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency unless the dosages exceed a certain amount. But the bombers were also given injections by Mr Dank of anti-obesity drug AOD-9604, which WADA  banned on Tuesday. The use of this drug may yet lead to players or the club facing doping sanctions, although any such prosecution by doping authorities is  likely to face legal challenges.

The Hexarelin invoice discovered by the Bombers was sent to the club by Mr Dank’s business associate, South Yarra chemist Nima Alavi. The invoice is not proof that anyone at the club took the drug, which stimulates the production of human growth hormone and which was banned by WADA in 2004.

The existence of the invoice is further complicated by the fact that Mr Dank was separately treating private patients while employed by the Bombers and using Mr Alavi to supply both the club and his private business.

Mr Dank has stressed that he never used Hexarelin on any players at Essendon, although he has said he has used the drug on up to six club  officials, including coach James Hird. Privately,  Hird has strongly denied he knowingly took Hexarelin. It is also unclear whether Essendon actually paid for the Hexarelin listed on the invoice.

But the appearance of the invoice – given it lists a banned drug – during the 2012 season should have  alerted officials to the dangers of Mr Dank’s program.

Mr Dank told the Australian Crime Commission in sworn testimony last year that he had used Hexarelin on Essendon’s senior staff, though he has refused to confirm this with  ASADA. Mr Dank is refusing to co-operate with ASADA.

An Essendon  spokesman said: ‘‘The club will not make any comment due to the ongoing investigation of ASADA and the AFL, as well as the club’s internal governance review.’’

In developments related to  Melbourne Football Club, confidential Demons and AFL documents reveal that at a  meeting between the league and the club on February 25, Melbourne officials disclosed that  Dr Bates had been communicating with Mr Dank before the doping scandal erupted on February 5.

Demons officials also told the league in February that some players had been given vitamin injections off-site and that club director David Thurin was inquiring  into the club’s medical program. The inquiry was completed on March 19 and devoted a full page to Mr Dank’s interactions with Dr Bates.

Demons insiders say the February disclosures show the club did not set out to mislead the AFL, as has been widely reported. But the insiders acknowledge that Dr Bates did not disclose to the Thurin review that after he had discussions with Mr Dank last December he   told co-captain  Trengove to apply a cream to his foot injury. The cream contained the anti-obesity drug, AOD9604.

The AFL is furious that it only recently learnt that this drug was used and officials also suspect that Melbourne staff outside of Dr Bates may not have been forthcoming with the league about Mr Dank’s activities.

With ADRIAN PROSZENKO, SAMANTHA LANE

Jobe joins Lambton to put fun back in football

FORMER Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse hopes to start enjoying his football again after signing with Northern NSW State League new boys Lambton Jaffas on Friday.
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The 27-year-old midfielder has been without a club since requesting a release and being paid out by the Jets in February after declaring ‘‘my heart’s not here any more’’.

Contract negotiations with the Jets had broken down and, despite approaches from Melbourne Heart and Central Coast Mariners, he opted to take a break.

He was poised to resurrect his A-League career with two-time champions Brisbane Roar, but when that offer was withdrawn last week, Wheelhouse opted to join his younger brother, Abe, at the Jaffas.

‘‘I will never shut the door on an A-League career or overseas for that matter, but I think it is the right time to take a step back,’’ Wheelhouse told the Herald.

‘‘If another door opens up, it does. If not, I am pretty happy with what I’ve achieved.

‘‘I had an opportunity to go and play alongside Abe and get a bit of enjoyment back in my game.

‘‘It has been three months now. With a few things falling through, the next best thing would be to get back on the horse, have a kick.

‘‘The guys at Lambton have been very welcoming. I’m looking to provide them with a bit of experience and try to keep my brother in line.

‘‘They have agreed to try and help me with my football school as well. We are all on the same page, which is good.’’

Wheelhouse has been a professional footballer since he returned from the Australian Institute of Sport as a 17-year-old to play for Newcastle United in the old national soccer league.

He was a foundation player for the Jets and made 106 A-League appearances, the last 31 as the club’s first home-grown skipper.

After turning down previous approaches he had been excited about the chance to move to Brisbane and a fresh start.

‘‘I am obviously disappointed that they reneged on the deal, but there are a lot of people worse off than me in life.’’

Wheelhouse starts training with the Jaffas next week but is not expected to make his debut until the round-eight clash against Weston at Edden Oval.

‘‘I have been doing bits and pieces, but I don’t think my body is ready for a game yet,’’ he said. ‘‘I will start training next week and have a wedding to attend in Fiji in a couple of weeks as well.’’

Not surprisingly, Jaffas coach Dave Tanchevski was delighted to have the ex-Jets skipper on board.

The Jaffas won the First Division minor and major premierships last year to earn promotion for the first time in club history and have opened their campaign with two losses.

‘‘There were a lot of disappointed people when he left the Jets and hopefully they come and watch him,’’ Tanchevski said.

‘‘He fits into our culture and is coming here for the right reasons.

‘‘We told him we had spent our budget but would give him what we can.’’

Tanchevski said the Jaffas would not stand in the playmaker’s way if an opportunity arose for him to return to the professional ranks.

Jobe Wheelhouse. Picture: Getty Images

McKeon stamps himself as contender for world title

A year ago, David McKeon burst from obscurity to win the Australian 400 metres freestyle title and secure a berth on the London Olympic team. On Friday night at the national titles, he stamped himself a contender for this year’s world titles in Barcelona when he notched the second-fastest time of the year to defend his title in three minutes, 43.71 seconds. It is behind only Chinese superstar Sun Yang, who leads the world with 3:42.96.
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It was a drop of almost three seconds from his previous best and with Beijing gold medallist and London silver medallist Park Tae-Hwan skipping Barcelona, the time has McKeon eyeing a possible medal at the world titles. He said he had worked hard to build his strength since London so that he could take on the bigger bodies of Sun, Park and co. ”I put on a lot more muscle than I had before the Olympics,” McKeon said. ”[I’m] so much stronger, I’d say 100 times stronger than I was.”

McKeon became the first swimmer to qualify for the world championships team, finishing more than two seconds ahead of Jordan Harrison, who qualified for his first long-course national team in 3:45.85.

Thomas Fraser-Holmes, one of the pre-meet favourites, was disqualified when he false-started in his morning heat, bringing back memories of Ian Thorpe’s tumble in the same race in 2004.

Harrison said he realised his training partner’s misfortune had opened an opportunity to snare a berth on the team, which he did by substantially dropping his personal-best and edging out London Olympian Ryan Napoleon (3:46.26.)

”I was so shocked because he [Fraser-Holmes] never breaks in training. He does everything right, so it was just such a shame to see,” Harrison said. ”You never like to see someone of that calibre fall in, it’s like Thorpie all over again. As bad as I felt for Tom, I knew he was faster than me, so seeing him out of the competition really boosted my mindset and I just went fully more aggressive, knowing that I could have a shot of making the team.”

Bronte Barratt added a third 400 freestyle national title to her resume when she comprehensively beat long-time rival Kylie Palmer. Barratt won in 4:03.52, the fastest time in the year so far. Palmer also secured her place on the team.

Olympic silver medallist Christian Sprenger, 27, has set the three fastest times of the year, and was the top qualifier for Saturday night’s 100 breaststroke final with a time of 59.05 seconds. He said he would look to edge towards Cameron van de Burgh’s world record of 58.46, which the South African swam to beat Sprenger in London last year.

Asked if he felt he had developed into a stronger swimmer since London, Sprenger said: ”I finally sort of worked out how to swim breaststroke I think.”

London Olympic bronze medallist Alicia Coutts was the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s 100 butterfly final, winning her semi in 57.93.

Matt Targett says he has made contact with Coutts’ coach and plans to apologise to Australia’s best performer in the London pool for his behaviour towards her at a meet in Perth in January. Targett was reprimanded by Swimming Australia for his conduct and Coutts has been disappointed that he has not apologised to her. ”I asked John Fowlie about a good time to talk to her and that was this morning and [it] hasn’t happened yet. She’s pretty busy, she’s got a lot of races. I don’t want to get in the way. But we will talk,” said Targett, after showing the controversy has not affected his form by posting a sharp time of 23.22 to be top qualifier for Saturday’s 50 butterfly final.

Gant welcomes return to No.8

MINE: Southern Beaches’ Bleddyn Gant thunders for the line at Passmore Oval last year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll NCH SPORTNHRU at Passmore Oval, Wickham. Hamilton, in blue and yellow stripes VS Southern Beaches in dark blue. OUTA MY WAY! Picture shows Southern Beaches player Bleddyn Gant thunders over the line for a try.28th July 2012 NewcastleNCH SPORT PIC JONATHAN CARROLL
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NCH SPORTNHRU at Passmore Oval, Wickham. Hamilton, in blue and yellow stripes VS Southern Beaches in dark blue. OUTA MY WAY! Picture shows Southern Beaches player Bleddyn Gant thunders over the line for a try.28th July 2012 NewcastleNCH SPORT PIC JONATHAN CARROLL

BLEDDYN Gant is looking forward to returning to No.8 and the extra freedom it provides.

But the Southern Beaches Welshman is not expecting life to get any easy against The Waratahs at Allen Davis Oval, Gateshead, on Saturday.

After spending most of his career, including the 2011 season at Eastwood, in the engine room, Gant made the switch to the back of the scrum on returning to Newcastle and Southern Beaches last year.

The move proved a masterstroke. The bull-neck metre eater was one of the dominant forwards in the competition, with strength from the scrum base a feature.

He finished second in the Anderson Medal voting and was the leading forward. But the arrival of Va Talaileva at Cahill Oval this season forced a change in plans.

Gant had stuck his hand up to play tight-head prop for Newcastle at the Country championships, where he was outstanding, and stayed in the No.3 jumper on returning to club level.

But with Talaileva in Melbourne for NSW Country’s clash against the Rising Rebels development squad, the opportunity arose for Gant to turn back the clock.

“It will be good to get the running game going again,” Gant said. “At No.8 I have a bit of freedom to do that.

“I had no dramas in the front row. I played a fair bit of tighthead back home.

“Scrummaging wise it takes a fair bit out of you. By the time you have two or three scrums you are blowing and it makes it harder to have an impact running.”

Gant could not have asked for a tougher first-up assignment. The Tahs, one of his former clubs, are sitting pretty at the top of the ladder with three bonus-point wins and boast power-packed No.8 Pala Palupe.

Palupe, one of five new Kiwis at the Tahs, including former Beaches fullback Tim Riley, has been a stand out in the opening three round.

The former captain of Auckland club East Tamaki, Palupe has picked up six points from three games to lead the Anderson Medal race.

“I am always up for a good battle,” Gant said.

“If we can get our set piece going and put pressure on them in the scrum, hopefully we can tame their No.8 a bit.”

Beaches have lost enforcers Adrian Sutter and Mark O’Brien from last season, but Gant has no doubts they have the size and power to match it with any pack in the competition.

“Every game is won up front first of all,” Gant said.

“We have a similar size pack to last year so I think we can give anybody a run.”

After beating Wanderers 25-21 in the first round, Beaches have dropped back-to-back games against Lake Macquarie (30-24) and Maitland (39-29).

Though disappointed with the results, coach Tim Chidgey said they were not totally unexpected.

“We are still probably four weeks away from being at our best,” Chidgey said. “It is a long season and we decided to take a different approach after our performances in the semis for the past two.”

Tahs coach Hayden Pedersen said it was no secret Southern Beaches would aim most of their traffic through the forwards.

“Their game is based around their pack,” he said.

“They have a lot of good players there and like to keep it tight. It will be a good challenge for the boys.”

TOPICS, VIDEO: How to dance like everyone is watching

TOMMY Franklin didn’t always have the moves.
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For a guy best known as the Dancing Man, he used to be self-conscious. But then something clicked.

‘‘I decided that what people think of me is their business,’’ Franklin, in town for the King Street Hotel’s 10th anniversary, told Topics.

‘‘Dancing is about having a dig.’’

The Byron Bay native has spawned a cult following. Videos of him cutting loose have had thousands of hits on YouTube, and he didn’t need much persuading yesterday to do his thing on Darby Street.

And here’s the thing about Tommy Franklin: he dances, and they come. All kinds of them.

One chap interrupted the dancing to ask for change. Another spontaneous fellow, Nick Nyoni, from Mayfield, busted out some moves of his own.

It was a strange afternoon for your humble correspondent.

Gone barking mad

‘‘BARK’’ doesn’t capture it. Neither does ‘‘yap’’. Both are too rich, too melodic to describe the noise that comes out of this dog.

It’s more like a ‘‘yipe!’’. It rings out across Merewether, like guerilla gunfire.

‘‘Yipe, yipe, yipe!’’

Topics wants to be clear: the barking isn’t constant. In a way, that would be more bearable. This unseen canine banshee, a couple of houses away, strikes when you least expect it.

You sit down to have dinner.

‘‘Yipe!’’

You’re drifting off to sleep.

‘‘Yipe!’’

You’re watching a movie, and you’ve invested two hours, and the killer’s about to be revealed.

‘‘Yipe, yipe, yipe!’’

We mention this because Newcastle City Council has released a cost-cutting plan. Some of it makes chilling reading.

‘‘Restrictions in resources will impact on response times,’’ says a council document, ‘‘particularly to less critical complaints … and response to cat and barking dog complaints.’’

A line comes to mind from Lord of the Rings, when King Theoden contemplates the approaching hordes of Mordor.

‘‘How did it come to this?’’

In the Anzac spirit

TONY Brown, of Cooks Hill, reports an Anzac Day coincidence.

His daughter Clare, 19, is living in Brussels. Thursday morning, local time, she joined a bus-load of expats on a visit to Tyne Cot war cemetery in Passendale, West Flanders.

From the cemetery, Clare linked up with her dad via the video-conference tool Skype.

‘‘She was trying to find the grave of local Victoria Cross winner Captain Clarence Jeffries that I visited last year,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘After a video treasure hunt and [live] instructions and directions from me, she found it just before the bus departed.’’

The coincidence? A cemetery staff member handed Clare a small wooden cross to place next to a grave.

‘‘They were unaware she is from Newcastle,’’ says Mr Brown.

‘‘You won’t believe she was given one from Newcastle Grammar School.’’

The cross is nestled safely next to Captain Jeffries’s grave, thanks to Clare.

IN THE ZONE: Internet dance sensation Tommy Franklin grooving to the music on Darby Street.

PAY RESPECT: A picture of Captain Clarence Jeffries and his Victoria Cross medal on display at Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Buderus eager to get back in saddle

CHAMPION Knights hooker Danny Buderus vowed to be back for the business end of the NRL season and with no self-doubt lurking in the back of his mind.
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HOPEFUL: Danny Buderus

“I’m confident I’ll still get a dozen games in,” said Buderus, who is recovering from his second bout of spinal surgery in three months.

“I’ll hopefully get around 12 games. That’s what I’m focused on – finishing the year off.

“Hopefully I can lift the boys coming back around then. This is definitely my last year, and that’s why I’m definitely keen to finish off on some sort of good note.”

The 35-year-old says that when he is eventually cleared to resume, possibly for the round-14 clash with premiers Melbourne, he plans to “get stuck into it” from the outset.

“There’s no other way, there’s no way of thinking about self-preservation on the field,” he said.

Buderus said his specialist was confident there would be no further relapses and had assured him he was in no danger of suffering any long-term damage.

“The doctor’s been doing it for 25 years but he’s never operated three times on the same disc,” he said.

Having been through the same rehabilitation process in February and March, which allowed him to play in Newcastle’s wins against North Queensland and Canberra, Buderus said he knows what to expect and feels ahead of schedule.

He has mapped out a recovery time of six to eight weeks and will train alongside back-rower Beau Scott, who is recovering from groin surgery.

“The stitches and that need to settle down and then I can start getting in the pool and get it moving,” he said.

“I’m doing a lot of core work. About the five- to six-week mark, you can get things going.”

Injury-hit Knights must dig deep

Join Brett Keeble at theherald南京夜网.auSunday as he live blogs the Knights v Gold Coast game.
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MEMORIES of a victory earlier in the season will bolster a depleted Newcastle Knights line-up as they chase their first away win of the season against Gold Coast at Skilled Park tomorrow.

The Knights have more than 750 games of first-grade experience sidelined in the form of injured Danny Buderus, Beau Scott and Anthony Quinn and the suspended Jeremy Smith.

Skipper Kurt Gidley (back) and bench forward Neville Costigan (knee) will also need to pass fitness tests on Saturdayif they are to board the flight to Coolangatta.

But it was a similar story in round three, when veterans Gidley, Willie Mason and Timana Tahu were all unavailable and the Knights stunned North Queensland 34-6.

“I think it was against the Cowboys we got questioned there a little bit – but we held up then and played pretty well,” Knights forward Alex McKinnon said.

“That’s what we’ve got to do this week as well. We’re a pretty tight group and we’ve got good depth in the squad, so we’re pretty confident.”

Centre Dane Gagai, who will return from an ankle injury, echoed those sentiments.

“That’s the greatest thing about this year, is our depth,” he said.

“It’s obviously disappointing missing those experienced players . . . but we’ve got a lot of depth this year and that’s going to be one of our strong points.”

Gagai and McKinnon are bracing themselves to contain maligned Gold Coast forward Dave Taylor, who is named on the bench after being stood down for two weeks over disciplinary issues.

Taylor, one of the most devastating players in the NRL when he is in the mood, is expected to line up on the Gold Coast’s left edge and target Jarrod Mullen, Gagai and McKinnon.

“I’ve had him a couple of times and he’s pretty hard to get hold of, obviously,” Gagai said.

“He’s a big man. He tends to run down the edges and at the centres, so I’ll have my work cut out for me there a bit.

“I’ve got Jarrod Mullen inside me and I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”

Asked about his plans to combat Taylor, McKinnon replied: “How do you tackle everyone else? Go as hard as you can. If you come off second best, work on that.”

Another Gold Coast player with a point to prove is halfback Albert Kelly, who played briefly in Newcastle’s NSW Cup team last year before the Knights sacked him for alcohol-related indiscretions.

McKinnon played alongside Kelly in the NSW under-16 and under-18 teams and said the Aboriginal playmaker was a special talent.

“I rate him as a great player,” McKinnon said.

“I played a lot of junior rugby league with him, a lot of NSW stuff, and . . . I remember as a junior he was always a star coming through.

“He could do everything.

“I still think he can do that at NRL level. We’ve seen in the last few weeks he’s been going pretty well.”

Tomorrow’s showdown shapes as an intriguing tussle between two evenly matched teams, both of whom have won four of six games this season.

Even their point-scoring statistics are very similar. Newcastle scored 128 and conceded 85, compared with Gold Coast’s 130 and 90.

But the Knights are still searching for their first win against a top-eight opponent and will be $2.40 outsiders to achieve that on Sunday.

Kurt Gidley will need to pass a fitness test on Saturday. Picture: Anthony Johnson