Thursday, April 10, looms as D-Day for the central figure in the most scandalous drugs probe in Australian sport, with the national anti-doping authority's ultimate decision-making body set to make a critical ruling on Stephen Dank.
Fairfax Media has learnt that a meeting of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel (ADRVP) has been scheduled for seven days' time.
This follows ASADA's move last month to issue the biochemist who has worked with footballers from several AFL and NRL clubs with a ''show cause' letter for an alleged 34 anti-doping rule breaches understood to focus almost entirely on his work at the AFL's Essendon Football Club.
Dank did not respond to the show-cause letter within the 10-day window allowed, and does not intend to co-operate with ASADA under any circumstances.
Without a response to a show-cause note, protocol dictates that the ADRVP calls the next move and sources with knowledge of anti-doping procedures agreed on Wednesday that - provided ASADA's position on Dank is unchanged - the next step would be the entry of Dank's name on the Register of Findings.
Dank has said he would only defend himself in the Federal Court,
and his entry on ASADA's Register would likely trigger that significant response.
It is for the ADRVP to determine how many of the more than 30 alleged anti-doping rule breaches levelled against Dank it registers. Critical is whether any alleged breaches refer to administration of drugs to individual footballers. Other alleged breaches, related to trafficking and/or possession, would be less likely to affect athletes.
A seven-member body with expertise on medicine, sport and the law, ASADA's ADRVP is chaired by Professor Andrew McLachlan, of the University of Sydney and Concord Hospital, who has been involved with the national anti-doping agency since 1999.
Operating at arm's length from ASADA, the panel judges all anti-doping cases that are formalised in evidentiary briefs. After ASADA's investigators and lawyers prepare cases for individual athletes or athlete support personnel, the ADRVP determines whether it approves or rejects the recommendation of whether doping has occurred.
''One would have to expect that given the high profile nature of this matter it would be an agenda item of the ADRVP at its next meeting,'' former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings said. ''If the ADRVP has received no submission from Mr Dank in response to its show-cause notice, it should be in a position to quickly determine whether any of these matters should be placed on the Register of Findings or not.''
The panel met 23 times in 2012-13 according to ASADA's last financial report.
Once an individual is on the Register of Findings, they are typically issued with an infraction notice from the administration of the relevant sporting body. An entry on the Register of Findings can be challenged at the appropriate administrative appeals tribunal. While sanctions can also be appealed through a separate hearing process, Dank has repeatedly signalled he has no intention of participating.