Banned former AFL player Brent Prismall feels he was the victim of massive deception in the Essendon supplements debacle.
Prismall has taken aim at sports scientist Stephen Dank, high performance manager Dean Robinson and coach James Hird – all key figures in the saga – and the club itself.
The former Geelong and Essendon player, now retired, spoke in a wide-ranging ABC radio interview that was aired on Saturday before the Bombers’ first home game of the season, against Melbourne at the MCG.
While Prismall is adamant he did not cheat, he admits to being unable to explain why he did not list thymosin on an anti-doping test form.
The failure by the players involved in the case to list thymosin became a factor in the CAS verdict earlier this year that banned them for doping.
Prismall also subsequently had to stand down from his development job at the Western Bulldogs while he serves his suspension.
Asked if he felt the victim of deception in the supplements regime, Prismall replied: “I’ve seen emails from Stephen Dank to Dean Robinson, or vice versa, saying ‘can we just call them amino acids, or a vitamin injection?’
“Yeah, I think there’s a massive level of deception by those people.
“It certainly feels like we were guinea pigs in all this.”
Prismall was asked who he blamed for his predicament.
“Stephen Dank is clearly one – for me, he administered all my injections,” he said.
“I see him responsible for the program.”
Prismall was then asked about his view on Hird, who lost his job last year as the fallout from the supplements saga continued.
While Hird has apologised, he has steadfastly denied culpability for the disastrous program.
“The coach at a football club knows everything,” Prismall said.
“Ultimately he would make the decision as to whether the program would or would not run.
“He certainly has a level of responsibility as well.”
Prismall admitted to embarrassment about his doping ban, which the 34 current and past Essendon players are challenging.
He said probably the biggest stress is not having clarity on what exactly he was given in the supplements program.
Prismall said he signed a consent form to be given thymosin, which is legal, but now admits there’s a possibility it could have been the banned thymosin beta-4.
The players were banned on the basis that they took TB4.
While he felt pressure to be involved in the program, Prismall conceded some teammates did not receive injections.
In hindsight, he wishes he had never taken anything.
And he cannot explain why he did not list thymosin on his doping control form when he was tested in December 2011.
“I couldn’t answer it … I’m still not sure why,” he said.
“I’m smart enough to know that it looks like that (wrong), but I know there were no players concealing that information because we were trying to hide it.”
Prismall also is disappointed with Essendon since he left the club.
He said he has received far more support from the Bulldogs.
“We’re in this position because of the football club … they could have done more along the way,” he said.
He is the second banned player, after current Essendon star Dyson Heppell, to speak publicly in the last few weeks about the issue.