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Doctors investigated over AFL doping scandal

The Australian Crime Commission has launched a major review of doctors linked with former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank.

The Commission has referred up to five doctors who have been associated with Dank to the Australian Health practitioner Regulation Agency.

The drug at the centre of the AFL doping scandal, AOD-9604, has not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or any other health authority in the world for human use, and is therefore banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Australian registered doctors can legally prescribe AOD-9604 with prescriptions made up by a compounding pharmacy. However, it can not be legally imported without a special permit under the strict Special Access Scheme (SAS), which requires a doctor to apply to the TGA for permission to treat a particular patient with the drug, including describing the specific clinical need.

A TGA spokeswoman confirmed to The Age that “there have been no applications under the SAS for AOD-9604”.

The ACC and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) have found evidence suggesting medical professionals have been issuing prescriptions improperly.

Essendon doctors Bruce Reid and Brendan DeMorton are understood not to have prescribed any drugs used in the Essendon supplement program.

One doctor is accused of ordering blood tests and prescriptions for Essendon players without consulting them in person and another apparently arranged for 22 players to be given substances through intravenous drips.

It is not clear whether players were told what they were being given. Investigators were originally told the substances were simply vitamin infusions in quantities within anti-doping rules.

Dank says he only ever injected players with vitamins that were within WADA guidelines, but had admitted to using AOD-9604 on players and claims that he was advised by ASADA in 2012 that this was legal. ASADA denies the claim.

Kirsty Waterford

Image by Tom Reynolds on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

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