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St Kilda's Saad facing drugs ban: report
Mat Mackay, WWOS & AAP
11:00 AEST Wed Jul 31 2013

Ahmed Saad has been named as the St Kilda player facing a possible two year ban for drug use.

Fairfax media named Saad a short time ago having earlier reported that a St Kilda footballer had returned an irregular sample from a routine drug test.

The media outlet had suggested the player had unwittingly taken a banned substance.

The latest report comes as another blow for the AFL, which is already reeling from the anti-doping investigation into Essendon's controversial 2012 supplements program.

Further damaging claims have emerged against the Bombers, with suggestions the club knew it was using an illegal drug and that its supplements program was instigated because of suspicions about rival clubs.

Anti-doping authorities have reportedly seized a document from the Bombers that states the anti-obesity drug at the centre of their investigation was not legal.

According to Fairfax, it was written by the Melbourne firm that developed AOD 9604 and suggests that if the product was "legal" its use would be more widespread.

The report came as Bombers coach James Hird was accused of pointing the finger at other clubs, suspicious that rivals teams were pushing the limits with performance-enhancing drugs.

Hird is said to have shared his suspicions with Essendon's then sports scientist Stephen Dank, who himself claimed that rivals West Coast, Collingwood and Hawthorn were "biologically advanced".

"We need to change our biology for a little while,'' Dank said in a text message to Hird in April last year, according to ABC's 7.30 program.

"I need to use much more placental cells and Actovegin."

Actovegin is a calf's blood extract that is prohibited in sport if taken by intravenous infusion, but generally permissible when injected, the Herald Sun reports.

Dank claimed that Hawthorn was "trying everything they can in supplements and recovery modes to win this premiership.''

According to the 7.30 program, Hird replied to Dank: "But not as good as us in that area.''

The 7.30 program claimed Hird told Dank of his suspicions about Collingwood at Hird's Toorak home in October 2011.

Hird was said to have told Dank to try to to match the strength of the Collingwood players using "any legal means possible''.

The damning claims surfaced as Essendon's former high performance manager Dean Robinson indicated the club employed Dank to run last year's supplements program as a "black ops" operation.

The assertion has been emphatically denied by the Bombers.

Robinson was stood down by the Bombers in February when they asked ASADA and the AFL to investigate them and he resigned from the club last Friday.

In an excerpt played by the Seven Network on Tuesday night from an interview to air in full on Wednesday night, Robinson said he was present when Dank was interviewed for his job by Essendon coach James Hird and football manager Danny Corcoran.

"They put a scenario to Stephen. Steve said to Danny and James, specifically to them: `What you are asking me to do is black ops.'" Robinson said.

The term "black ops" suggests a covert operation, but the Bombers issued a statement on Tuesday night saying they had never used that term.

"As has previously been stated, James Hird emphasised that the 2012 supplements program run by Stephen Dank and Dean Robinson must be legal according to WADA and the AFL, must be approved by the club doctor, must be given with the consent of the player and must not harm the player," the Bombers said.

"Contrary to reports, James Hird and Danny Corcoran never said the programme should be run as a 'black op'.

"This is nonsense and categorically rejected by the club. This assertion is slanderous."

In a separate statement released on July 17 the Bombers said Robinson was the driving force behind Dank coming to the club.

"Mr Dank was brought to the club at the insistence of Dean Robinson with whom he had worked previously," they said.

In another excerpt from his interview, Robinson said he was reduced to tears when the Bombers stood him down in February.

"I'm in tears, I'm shaking, the worst thing is walking in and seeing my kids and realising that everything I've worked for, everything I've tried to do for my family, Essendon is targeting me," he said.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and AFL joint investigation into the club's supplement program last year is expected to be finalised next week.


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