‘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.
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.
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