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.
”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.