The latest development in the Essendon drug saga has plunged the club into further trouble with allegations of links to a convicted drug dealer.

A report in the Age has suggested a that biochemist named Shane Charter, also known as “Dr. Ageless”, supplied Stephen Dank with illegal supplements sourced from Asia. These supplements were worth upwards of $30,000.

Charter was charged in 2004 for possession of 100,000 pseudoephedrine-based tablets and received a reduced sentence.

These allegations put the Bombers, and especially Steven Dank and Shane Charter, in danger of being sanctioned under rule seven of the ASADA code: “Trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or prohibited method.”

The players at Essendon will be at risk of being sanctioned under rule two of ASADA’s eight anti-doping violations, which prohibits any use or attempted use by an athlete of a prohibited substance or prohibited method. The rule makes it clear – if an athlete is unaware that they have taken an illegal substance, this will not be a valid excuse to avoid a sanction. The athlete takes full responsibility for any substance that may enter their body.

High performance manager Dean Robinson and Dank could be sanctioned under rule eight of the ASADA code which states: “Administration or attempted administration to any athlete in-competition of any prohibited method or prohibited substance, or administration or attempted administration to any athlete out-of-competition of any prohibited method or any prohibited substance that is prohibited out-of-competition, or assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up or any other type of complicity involving an Anti-Doping Rule Violation or any attempted Anti-Doping Rule Violation.”

Anyone involved in the life of an athlete can also be subjected to the World Anti-Doping Code.

The level of guilt ASADA finds Essendon’s players and suspected officials will be considerably different to the AFL and the public. ASADA does not give athletes leniency when it comes to taking prohibited substances. Even if the players had no knowledge at all of the substances they were taking and had no intent to cheat the system, ASADA will still find them guilty of rule two if it can be proven that they did take illegal substances. This is where Essendon is in a world of trouble.

The AFL may find the players’ actions to be on the minor scale in comparison to the actions of Robinson, Dank and Charter.

It is highly likely ASADA will take a zero tolerance approach to this situation. If the Essendon players and officials are found to be at fault, chances are they will be made an example of.