THE scientist at the centre of the national drugs in sport controversy is at the top of a performance-enhancing drug distribution network that has tentacles across Sydney, linking Kings Cross nightclub figures, rugby league clubs and an escort agency.
Fairfax Media can reveal the murky world of sports consultant Stephen Dank, who is one of four owners of the Medical Rejuvenation Centre at Bondi Junction that sells anti-ageing medicine and sports performance supplements.
On Thursday the Australian Crime Commission sent shockwaves through Australia's sporting codes when it said it had found widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs and possible attempts to fix matches.
The probe code-named Operation Asperio also revealed personal relationships of some professional athletes that raised the possibility of manipulation of betting markets.
Investigations have revealed Mr Dank's fellow directors include Zaheer Azmi, 27, who has been involved in a company with Tunnel Nightclub owner David Auld. Fairfax Media has been told Mr Azmi worked for Mr Auld at the nightclub in 2008, when it was called Dragonfly.
Another director of MRC is bodybuilder Adam George Van Spanje, whose father, Edward, is also a co-director of the ''rejuvenation clinic''.
The clinic is also connected through a third company to Nick James Truscott, 24, an entrepreneur who once owned a window washing company and now an escort company, Sydney High Class. Mr Azmi and Mr Van Spanje are also part owners of Sydney High Class.
Mr Truscott has offered others within the clubbing and gym scene discounted products from MRC, according to industry insiders.
Fairfax Media has been told people are offered MRC peptides and other supplements at Bondi gyms and in Kings Cross nightclubs. They are ''widely used'' and several Kings Cross DJs are avid users, according to people in those circles.
Mr Auld could not be reached for comment but his close friend and business associate John Ibrahim told Fairfax Media any ''close connection'' being drawn between Mr Azmi and any of his clubs and interests was ''blatantly wrong, and false''.
''I have never met Stephen Dank … and I have never even heard of the Medical Rejuvenation Clinic,'' he said. ''Until this report came out I didn't even know what peptides were.''
Peptides are amino acids, like proteins. Two main types are used in sport: protein peptides and hormone peptides. Protein peptides are proteins broken down into small particles that can be rapidly absorbed by the body. Hormone peptides are proteins usually secreted by the pituitary gland, such as growth hormone and insulin.
The Kings Cross district is a well-worn playground for sports stars, and the party scene's godfather John Ibrahim is known to have close friendships with many league players.
Mr Dank, who has worked for a number of NRL clubs, would not comment on Friday but his barrister, Gregory Stanton, said he was suffering emotional and physical stress after more than 72 hours of embarrassment and ridicule. ''[He] has been brought to this position because in effect he hasn't had an opportunity to properly defend himself because the forum and the context in the way in which this matter has unfolded deprived him of it.''
Mr Stanton said at this stage, all that had been levelled against him was rumour and innuendo.
''The business run from Bondi Junction is a legitimate, viable business. The chemical substances supplied from that business are entirely legal and when supplied in the context of a prescription issued by a registered medical practitioner you, I or any number of us could buy them and use them legitimately if we were not sports people.''
On Thursday Fairfax Media was able to buy peptides from MRC online but the company later sent an email saying: ''Due to the current media frenzy regarding AFL, NRL and ARU and peptides we require additional information from our customers so we can provide the products via a doctor's prescription''.