As Manly was dragged into the drugs investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, it has emerged that controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank's long-term employment at the Sea Eagles ended as a result of a clash over attempts to administer an injection to former representative forward Josh Perry.
While it has been suggested before that Dank was let go by the Sea Eagles for financial reasons, the termination was said to have occurred due to a disagreement over his methods. After Dank had approached Perry about having an injection, the player complained to strength and conditioning coach Don Singe, who informed club doctor Paul Bloomfield and subsequently the now former Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler. It was then decided to end Dank's six-year employment at the Sea Eagles.
The revelation came after ASADA began moves to investigate the Sea Eagles, with officials of the drugs body holding a phone hook-up with Manly bosses on Monday. Fairfax Media has been told three representative players, all of whom remain at the club, will be interviewed by ASADA officials, probably within three weeks.
Having had no contact with ASADA officials for some time, the Sea Eagles had denied they were to be next in the sights of the body after Cronulla, despite rampant speculation. But the phone hook-up, believed to have involved general manager David Perry and chairman Scott Penn, confirmed the club would be next on ASADA's hit-list.
Perry confirmed on Wednesday that ASADA had foreshadowed that officials would interview players as part of its investigation into peptide use in the NRL.
But he said the club had received no formal requests to interview players.
''ASADA has previously told us they may want to question players and club staff as part of their wider investigation into previous practices but we haven't received any notification beyond that,'' Perry said in a club statement.
The statement said that the club reiterated that it had ''complete faith in its programs and procedures during the period under ASADA investigation''. Central to ASADA's inquiries is likely to be whether the three players continued to have contact with an assistant of Dank, who was referred to as ''The Gazelle'', after the pair stopped working for the Sea Eagles. The ABC reported on Wednesday night that ''The Gazelle'' is Darren Hibbert of Advanced Sports Nutrition. Hibbert reportedly told 7.30 Report he had sold a variety of supplements, including Humanofort, Xtreme Blast and The Mix, to Manly and Cronulla players out of the boot of his car at the clubs' car parks.
The former chief executive of ASADA, Richard Ings, confirmed that the body had investigated the Sea Eagles as far back as 2008 - following revelations that the club was using Actovegin, a calf-blood extract, on its players.
''The techniques that were being used were examined at the time and they were found not to be banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency code,'' Ings said.
But with an eight-year statute of limitations, ASADA can re-investigate the period.
World Anti-Doping Agency rules state that if two players from the one team are found guilty of doping, the team can be banned.
Attempts to contact Bloomfield were unsuccessful on Wednesday