IN AN extended, paid interview with the Seven Network on Wednesday night, Essendon's former fitness boss Dean 'The Weapon' Robinson has opened up on the club's controversial supplements program.
This is what he had to say.
On his mental health and having suicidal thoughts:
"It makes me angry. It makes be sad. It makes me depressed in times. And were times, yeah, where it made me suicidal. And the only thing that pulled me up was seeing my little girl, looking at her. I'd chosen the knife. I knew how I was going to do it. The only thing that stopped me was my little girl. That's how close I was. I just thought, 'I can't go there, because I've got four kids relying on me, and I can't let them down.' That's where it was at. So this has taken its toll. The impact on my family has been the worst."
On being stood down on February 5, when Essendon self-reported to the AFL:
"Danny Corcoran basically marched me to my office, basically kicked me out onto the street, and I had to get my wife to come and pick me up. They haven't spoken to me since I left ... since I was marched out.
"I was brought in and told, 'You're being stood down pending the outcome of the investigation. Allegations have come to light.' What allegations? What have I done? I still don't know. And no one has called me, no one has talked to me, no one has wanted to interview me from the club? Why? To protect. To make a scapegoat. I'm being thrown out by Essendon to protect their favourite son. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out why they'd want to do that, but is it fair? No."
The hidden costs:
"To have a $60,000 invoice put on your desk that didn't come to me, that actually went to the CEO Ian Robson, was a shock. And then when we did the investigation into why that was the case, it was found Steve [Dank] was keeping the invoices to himself. He said it was for amino acids. I said, 'What amino'. He said, 'It was just amino'. He wouldn't give me the answer. I do not know what this amino acid is to this day. I wish I did."
On Danny Corcoran:
"I was threatened that I'd be ruined by Danny Corcoran. He said, 'You resign or we'll destroy you.'"
When did that happen?
"In September, after all the injuries. He was blaming me for all the injuries."
On the mid-season fade-out:
"[The injuries] were equal all the way across the year. They didn't change. You want to know why we collapsed? The reason we collapsed is James [Hird] said, 'We're pulling back everything.' We didn't do any cardiovascular conditioning, we couldn't lift properly. So we lost fitness. We didn't lose games at the end because we had injuries. We lost games because we couldn't run."
On his responsibility to the players:
"There is remorse for the 18-year-old kids, because maybe they can't make their minds up. It's a moral question that we're talking about here. And it's a dilemma. Should we have been more protective? Maybe. But the leadership group didn't have an issue with this. Only one player didn't want to be involved – David Zaharakis. And that was fine. It was his personal choice ... I wish the culture at the club was there that was a lot better."
Do you blame yourself for that culture?
"I followed the directive I was given by the head coach. That was what I was there for. Now maybe I should have been a bit more dictatorial and pulled it all back. I did this year when I got asked to investigate the supplements we were using and what would help me during this coming season. Danny Corcoran asked me to do that, and I said no. I stripped it right back. I didn't even give them protein powder this year. And I was getting heat from everyone, but I was trying to pull it back and get the basics right, because I felt it had gotten out of control. I wanted to get back to the players doing the right things – the right nutrition, the right recovery."
Luke Darcy interviews Dean Robinson on Wednesday night. Picture: courtesy of Channel 7
"He's a great player. Take none of that away from him. But at the end of the day, what I observed, what I saw, his actions, the way he has handled himself – I've got no respect for the guy anymore."
Should he be sacked?
"That's for the board to decide. If he was honourable, he'd stand down."
On the Essendon culture:
"James Hird is a legend of the game and a legend of Essendon. His grandfather was the president. There was so much Hird history at Essendon. It was a boys' club. Whatever James Hird wanted, James Hird got. That was made very clear to me. He had his plans for the club, and everyone was behind him. It was hell or high water, it was coming.
"This was more than I've ever seen before. I've seen strong cultures, I've seen strong coaches, I've seen successful coaches. But it was no expense spared. It was 'whatever it takes'."
On Ian Robson (former CEO):
"I told him about the supplement regime and pushing it to the edge. He said, 'I'll put it in my terms. I'm an accountant. At the end of the day, I've got no problem with tax minimisation, but I've got a problem with tax avoidance.' Which says to me, push to the edge. They knew what was going on. This wasn't closed door, secret meetings, the rest of it. It was open. No one was hiding anything, because we didn't think we were doing anything wrong. So they knew from the top of the club, all the way through."
"He (Hird) raised Hexarelin with us. There was a conversation that I walked in on between James Hird and Stephen Dank, and I saw Hird get injected by Dank. I said, 'We're not going down that path. As far as I know, Hexarelin…is a banned substance. We're not going there.' I shut it down.
"I can confirm to you that my lawyers have spoken with Steve Dank, and he said he did inject Hird with Hexarelin on 30-odd occasions. First off he said he had none, and then he said he only had a couple. That's a lie. They were weekly or bi-weekly injections. One of the substances he was injected with was Melanotan II. It's a vanity agent. It's a tanning agent, age and fat loss. It wasn't a banned substance. It's a substance you could go to a chemist and buy. Summer was coming, so we decided to take it. I haven't got a good answer to why I did it. It wasn't banned. I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. The others were doing it. James wanted something to help him lose weight, and asked if Steve could give him anything. It happened in Steve's office. I'd walk in, and James would be down there, and Steve would inject him."
Did you challenge him?
"No. Who challenges James Hird at Essendon? I tried a couple of times, but I learned pretty quickly it's something you don't do."
"He (Hird) wanted me to bring bigger and stronger players to him. He felt they were being out-muscled, and he specifically noted a side that he really wanted to be. He wanted to go after Collingwood, and he wanted to be Collingwood. And he knew the stuff that Collingwood were doing. He said to me that he knew that they were taking supplements that were allowing them to get an advantage, because he knew who was supplying them."
What were the supplements?
"Growth hormone. Over the journey I felt there was inferences from him that we go down that path. I had a phone call while he was overseas telling me about a doctor he'd met in New York, who had this undetectable substance that you could use as a cream for players. And he came back and told me about it again, and said, 'We should investigate it. We should look at it.'"
"It was no expense spared - everything was whatever it takes, and I guess that was the slogan they went with this year, Whatever it Takes, because that was James Hird's attitude. I think the supporters are good people. I think the players are good people. I think the management of the club is a disaster."
Dean Robinson speaks during Wednesday night's interview on Channel Seven. Picture: Channel 7
On Stephen Dank:
"I first met him in 2004 when I was working with (NRL club) Manly Sea Eagles. He was a very knowledgeable man. A very smart man. I would have called us mates. I trusted the guy openly and honestly. I trusted him with my pregnant wife, and her supplementation and health. I put my family at risk with the guy, so I think you can see how much I trusted him at that stage."
Robinson said Cronulla used CJC-1295 in 2011, which at the time they believed was not a banned substance. He said Cronulla players trusted Dank.
"James asked for someone to help work in the supplementation, and the name Stephen Dank was the only one I raised. (In his job interview) they (James Hird and Danny Corcoran) put a scenario to Stephen, and Stephen said to them: 'What you're asking me to do is black ops'. I thought it was a shocking question, shocking what they said, but as far as I was concerned, we were never going to cross the line, and I didn't think Steve would either, because in the time I'd known him, he never crossed the line. Black ops means pushing the edge. It's being cutting edge.
"Everything I was involved in, I made sure it was put on the table. I sent emails out with the supplementation that was taking place. Now what happened behind closed doors, there was stuff that I wasn't privy to. I can't talk to that. He (Dank) was paid around about $100,000. The night Stephen Dank got appointed, 28 September 2011, he (Hird) said, 'Bring Steve over to my house. I want to get to know him.' We went over there, and James said, 'You two are in the inner sanctum now.' He explained where he'd been as a player and his thoughts and philosophies."
On his mental health and having suicidal thoughts:
"There were days where I couldn't sleep. There were numerous days where I thought about suicide. Where I've chosen the knife, chosen exactly how I'd do it. I've been within seconds of going and getting the knife, and it's in those moments that I've seen my kids, seen my family, and I've gone, 'If I leave them, who's going to look after them?"