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Monday 25, Aug 2014

  NRL Confirm Doping Bans Accepted By 12 Cronulla Players

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NRL Confirm Doping Bans Accepted By 12 Cronulla Players

National Rugby League (NRL) boss has confirmed that 12 past and current Cronulla players have accepted backdated 12-month doping bans.

Dave Smith said there is no room for illegal substances in rugby league and the NRL will take whatever action is necessary to protect the integrity of the game. The NRL chief added the evidence in this case supports the fact that players were misled about the nature of the substances administered to them by people at the club who they should have been able to trust. Smith also remarked the suspensions recognize the fact that the players were misled, that the investigation has been ongoing for the past 18 months and that players made timely admissions after being provided with evidence earlier this week. The NRL Head also remarked controversial biochemist Stephen Dank has also been banned over his involvement in the supplements program and would never again be permitted to practice in the competition.

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen is one of 10 current NRL players alongside Cronulla teammates Nathan Gardner, Wade Graham, and Anthony Tupou. Newcastle’s Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden, Titans halfback Albert Kelly and prop Luke Douglas plus North Queensland centre Matthew Wright are all understood to have accepted the deal. The suspension means Gallen would be ruled out of the upcoming Four Nations tournament for Australia and Smith will be unable to represent New Zealand. Wright will miss the finals with the Cowboys and the Four Nations tournament for Samoa. The offer was rejected by Super League-based players Paul Aiton and Ben Pomeroy.

In another development, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been urged to overrule the “light” punishments handed out to past and present Cronulla Sharks players. News Corp reported that the chief executive of WADA is yet to review the evidence from the 17 doping cases despite lawyers for the players saying they received a guarantee from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that WADA would not interfere in the sanctions process.

John Fahey, former WADA boss, remarked the “light” penalties imposed by ASADA made a joke of anti-doping integrity in Australia. Fahey strongly urged WADA chief executive David Howman to review and overrule the sanctions. Fahey expressed anger over the backdated penalties and said nobody has had their record expunged and they did not hand back their earnings from this year nor did they have their names wiped from the record books as so many convicted athletes are forced to do under the WADA code around the world.

Backdated 12-month ASADA doping bans were accepted by Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and nine of his current and former Sharks teammates. The players reluctantly agreed to doping rather than face the prospect of facing an even-lengthier suspension over the club’s supplements program.

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett blasted the ASADA investigation. The legendary coach said the public nature of the investigation and the hyperbolic claims at a media conference helped no-one. Bennett remarked the bottom line is, right or wrong or whatever, the deal that finished up being cut for them at the end, if they believe there’s been performance enhancing drugs involved, it’s been a pretty fair deal.

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Friday 27, Sep 2013

  Doping Probe Into Sydney Roosters Ceased

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Doping Probe Into Sydney Roosters Ceased

The integrity unit of National Rugby League has ceased anti-doping investigations into the Sydney Roosters, according to NRL chief executive Dave Smith. Smith, speaking at the Men of League’s annual luncheon in Brisbane, remarked expected the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority would not pursue the matter further.

Smith added he did not expect the club or its players to face any sanction for a doping-related matter and added we became aware earlier in the year of the issues being reported (on the Sydney Roosters) and that information has been with ASADA for some time too.

Roosters went into trouble after some of their players returned elevated Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels in an unsanctioned test. A report by Fairfax Media revealed that six Roosters players returned blood test results with elevated readings for HGH. The team, two days before their preliminary final against Newcastle, remarked that it had sacked a sports nutrition company when six of its players returned tests with elevated readings for HGH. Nubodi, the company, was hired at the end of last year for helping fine tune detox diets for players before being dismissed in January. Nubodi Group boss Sean Carolan has denied providing HGH to Sydney Roosters’ players and claimed his work with the team was confined to dietary advice based on blood pathology.

NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle expressed concerns that the blood tests of players including Boyd Cordner, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and Sam Moa ending up on the mobile phone of an alleged crime figure raised concerns.

In a statement, the Sydney Roosters remarked there had been “full voluntary disclosure” with the integrity unit over the matter and they had not received any contact from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority about the matter. The statement also revealed that players have been regularly and extensively tested throughout the season by ASADA and the club has fully cooperated with the organization’s routine tests as is the case with all clubs and the team reinforce that the club maintains the absolute highest standards in its own policies and governance and, as a club, we have nothing to hide.

Roosters’ chief operating officer Brian Canavan however remarked that we were very unhappy that the extended (blood) testing was conducted. It was done without our knowledge. He went on to remark that the players thought they were being tested for conventional nutrition tests and the tests results came back to us and the growth hormone levels were indicated on the test results. Canavan added we did not order those through this company and once all this unfolded he wrote a report to the NRL integrity unit and what the integrity unit did from there I’m not sure. Canavan said the Roosters had no case to answer and added the couple of players who had elevated readings were tested again by our club doctor and those readings were perfectly normal and some tests were done which were parts of a normal nutrition test that the athletes undergo.

In a preliminary final, the team will take on Newcastle on Saturday night with the winner to progress to the grand final on October 6.

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Monday 23, Sep 2013

  Sydney Roosters Set To Be Embroiled In Controversy

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Sydney Roosters Set To Be Embroiled In Controversy

Minor premiers Sydney Premiers can be dragged into the doping investigations of the National Rugby League. This was after two of their players are expected to be interviewed by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA).

It is rumored that the names of Sydney Roosters‘ players came up during the investigation of Sandor Earl, the Canberra Raiders star, who recently admitted to using and trafficking banned peptides. It was confirmed by Roosters CEO Brian Canavan that officials were aware of the rumors but the club was not yet contacted by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency. Canavan remarked we are not aware of any investigation though we are aware that some rumors are circulating that a couple of players and ex-players may be interviewed. He added the club has the highest standards in their own governance practice and procedures and is totally compliant with the integrity unit’s practices and procedures.

According to Daily Telegraph, the club has been implicated because of a common party between Sydney Roosters and Earl, who started his career at Bondi Junction before he moved to Penrith in 2010. Meanwhile, the camp of Earl has denied rumors that the 23-year-old has provided any information about other players of the National Rugby League to ASADA. It is believed that Earl actually provided evidence about sports scientists Steve Dank for obtaining a significant assistance in getting his ban cut from 4 years to 1 year.

According to an announcement by National Rugby League (NRL) chief Dave Smith, an infraction notice was issued to Sandor Earl as a result of the ongoing ASADA investigation. Smith added that the infraction notice is a result of an interview between the player and ASADA in which admissions were made into the use and trafficking of the peptide CJC-1295. The New Zealand-born Canberra Raiders winger may accept the punishment of the league or elect to take the matter to a tribunal, Smith said. Meanwhile, the coach of Australian Rules club Essendon Bombers has been suspended for 12 months and the club was thrown out of the playoffs as a result of the ASADA probe. This was after it was found that the club used its players as guinea pigs in an experimental and possibly illegal supplements regime in 2011-12.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency has already interviewed more than 40 players and officials from Newcastle, Parramatta, Manly, Cronulla, Penrith, Gold Coast, and North Queensland. Three full-time investigators have been appointed by ASADA to the investigation of NRL since August and its powers included using phone records, emails, and other modes of communications as evidence for summoning officials and players for interviews.

It is believed that senior officials and staff including Sharks coach, Shane Flanagan, former strength and conditioning coach, Trent Elkin (now associated with Parramatta), and others are in the firing line for their failure to take care of players when Steve Dank oversaw their supplements program. While Dank has refused to be interviewed by the AFL, the NRL, or ASADA, the senior officials and staff members in the firing line have denied they were involved in any peptide injection program at the club.

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Saturday 15, Jun 2013

  Leading Anti-Doping Prosecutor Joins Doping Inquiry

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Leading Anti-Doping Prosecutor Joins Doping Inquiry

Richard Young, who played a central role in the cases of Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones, has joined the investigation of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) into the use of banned substances in the National Rugby League and the Australian Football League.

Young, the Colorado-based sports lawyer and a leading anti-doping prosecutor, was enlisted by ASADA to help the doping watchdog on an ongoing basis as it prepares to enter the fifth month of its investigation. An ASADA spokesperson said the agency confirms that it has engaged Richard Young to assist in its investigation. The lawyer, known for his pursuit in sealing the downfall of Lance Armstrong, was enlisted to help ASADA move its own investigation towards a successful conclusion.

The expertise of Richard Young in the anti-doping field is unmatched as he is the principal draftsman of the World Anti-Doping Code and has unrivaled reputation as an investigator and trial lawyer in cases involving performance enhancing drugs. Young was the senior prosecutor in the BALCO episode that led to American sprinter Jones being stripped of her Olympic medals besides being the lawyer of USADA in the 2007 case against disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and was even the lead outside lawyer of USADA on the Armstrong doping case. Young was instrumental in dealing closely with witnesses (in the Armstrong case) who were initially unwilling to come forward and was central as several top riders lifted the lid on the practices employed by the seven-time Tour de France champion and teammates.

Young is past Co-Chair of Holme Roberts & Owen’s Litigation Practice Group and has been the managing partner of the Colorado Springs office and is the managing partner at the firm Brian Cave LLP of the Colorado Springs office for 20 years. Young has been nationally-recognized as a “Leader in His Field” for Sports Law: Athletic Disputes, by Chambers USA 2011, and as a member of the Law Dragon Top 500 Lawyers in the country. In Colorado, he has been awarded Colorado Law Week’s Lawyer of the Year (with his Landis trial team), Best Sports Lawyer, and is rated by Super Lawyers as a Colorado Super Lawyer. He has handled high profile cases for the World Anti-Doping Agency, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the United States Olympic Committee, USA Swimming, the International Weightlifting Federation, and other Olympic National Governing Bodies and International Federations.

After a legal wrangle over the level of co-operation provided by the first Sharks player who was interviewed, Wade Graham, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority quickly cancelled its interviews with the NRL club in its sights and Young is believed to work from Colorado Springs on the ASADA case though the anti-doping agency didn’t rule out him being flown here in the future. The lawyer is no stranger to cases of performance enhancing drugs in Australia; his services were sought in 2006 by ASADA to front the investigation into Australian weightlifting that led to several lifters and coaches being suspended.

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Thursday 13, Jun 2013

  NRL Unveils New Anti-Doping Measures

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NRL Unveils New Anti-Doping Measures

New drug testing procedures designed to “level the playing field” and stamp drugs out of the game have been unveiled by the National Rugby League.

There is no place for drugs in the sport, league chief executive Dave Smith told reporters at Rugby League Central in Sydney and added that we will do everything we can to have a drug-free game and the new testing measures are just part of our commitment to fans and players to placing integrity and compliance at the forefront of rugby league. Smith added we have been working with ASADA to identify the emerging threats in world sport and we have now developed a comprehensive new testing program that responds to and minimizes these risks.

The NRL has also appointed a general manager of integrity and chief legal officer, Nick Weeks, and established a dedicated integrity and compliance unit for the first time. League chief executive Dave Smith also remarked that NRL will utilize a test that was developed during the 2012 London Olympics to detect the use of human growth hormones (hGH) and the new anti-doping regime will also include an athlete biological passport (ABP) for players, regular testing both during the season and off-season and increased peptide testing. Smith also revealed that the latter will see samples sent to Cologne, in France, to take advantage of leading international developments and added peptides are very advanced drugs and from time immemorial it’s been hard to keep up with tests for these drugs. The league chief executive went on to say that he hoped testing would increase in future seasons and the ABP test is in effect as of now and also said we’ve signed the contract earlier in the week so the new regime is in place, it’s actually happened.

Smith said ASADA will do all the things they need to do to carry out the testing and where we start is not where we’re going to finish and we will always be able to shift the program. The chief executive added that the ABP tests are different from traditional tests as they look at the effects of doping, rather than directly detecting the prohibited substances or methods used and this means that even if a substance has left the body, the tests will detect if it was there. Smith recently called on the rugby league fraternity to lay off the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and said the anti-doping body should be left to operate on its own schedule. Smith also remarked that the process is still moving along and also said ASADA know that he continues to want urgently to get the existing investigation done, so he thinks we’re all clear in where I stand on that point and ASADA continue to reassure me that they’re doing everything they possibly can to get the investigation completed in as timely manner as they possibly can. In a statement, the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) said it backed the NRL’s new testing measures and the way it has gone about investigating doping.

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Saturday 08, Jun 2013

  Players Interviews To Be Stopped By ASADA

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Players Interviews To Be Stopped By ASADA

The doping investigation of the Australian National Rugby League has taken a new twist with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) terminating attempts to interview Cronulla players.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith defended his organization as news of ASADA’s decision broke against accusations of inaction over the investigation which has been under way for more than three months. The chief executive came under intense pressure after explosive details from a document reportedly written by the former ASADA deputy chair Dr Tricia Kavanagh in March following her independent investigation of alleged doping breaches at the Cronulla club in 2011 were published by News Ltd.

The document revealed Cronulla employed a systematic regime of peptides in the year 2011 in a program of injections, tablets and creams over a period of 11 weeks while sports scientist Stephen Dank was linked to the Sharks. The Kavanagh document quoted that club players were injected for three straight weeks and at least three players were given tablets of Humanofort, which included the WADA-banned growth hormone IGF-1 and all these three players showed abnormal levels of bruising after matches. The document also details a heated discussion between former Sharks doctor David Givney, and performance manager Trent Elkin.

It seems like ASADA has lost its patience after being left frustrated in its attempts to interview a number of Cronulla players because of legal argument about what they were obliged to reveal and therefore decided to pursue the doping investigation without them, at least for the time being.

The football general manager of Cronulla, Steve Noyce, revealed their decision and admitted he was not sure of what will happen next. Noyce remarked the solicitors of ASADA advised the legal representatives of the team that they will not be proceeding with the interviews and that is all he really knows. He however remarked the investigation is still ongoing and processes are still in place and have to be correctly followed.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority got the opportunity to speak to players from Cronulla a few weeks back but the meeting ended abruptly when lawyers from both parties failed to agree with the line of questioning. The fact that ASADA doesn’t have the power to ban players is a big hurdle though it can advise the National Rugby League what kind of infraction notice to issue.

National Rugby League chief Dave Smith said the reports reinforce what we have said from the outset which is that these matters are serious and we are confident that ASADA will push on with the investigation through whatever means they determine to be the best and it is worth noting that ASADA has had the Kavanagh report longer than we have and it is significant they have not been able to issue an infraction notice on the basis of that report, so there can be no suggestion that we could have acted on it independently. He also added that we are fully committed to assisting ASADA and seeing this through to the right conclusion.

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Wednesday 29, May 2013

  Rugby League Cooperation On Doping Urged by WADA

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Rugby League Cooperation On Doping Urged by WADA

John Fahey, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency has urged the National Rugby League to stop stonewalling in the doping scandal that has engulfed two of the leading sports of the country.

In February this year, an Australian Crime Commission report revealed dozens of players in the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League might have used illegal supplements.

The project, code named Project Aperio, was a 12-month ACC investigation, supported by ASADA and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which examined  four key issues: new generation Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs) that were previously considered to be only used by elite athletes and are now widely available, the involvement of organized criminal identities and groups in the distribution of new generation PIEDs, the use of WADA prohibited substances by professional athletes in Australia, and current threats to the integrity of professional sport in Australia. The report revealed peptides and hormones, despite being prohibited substances in professional sport, are being used by professional athletes in Australia, facilitated by sports scientists, high-performance coaches and sports staff. Widespread use of these substances has been identified, or is suspected by the ACC, in a number of professional sporting codes in the country. It was also found that the level of use of illicit drugs within some sporting codes is considered to be significantly higher than is recorded in official statistics.

Doping authorities cannot rely on that background for any potential action against the athletes, the WADA chief said and pointed to the success of the lengthy investigations of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that the eventual confession by Lance Armstrong that he had doped while winning the Tour de France.

Cronulla Sharks forward Wade Graham was the first player interviewed by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency as it investigates the possible use of banned drugs by the NRL club in 2011. However, the two sides soon realized they were far apart on key issues, and ASADA called an early end to the interview. Players, under their NRL contracts, are obliged to give ASADA “reasonable assistance,” and that appears to be the main point of difference between Sharks players and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency, along with fears that answers could be self-incriminating.

The AFL, the Melbourne-based organizers for Australian Rules football, had been more proactive, Fahey said while continuing his attack on rugby league administrators in an interview. Fahey said there has been “a profound silence” from the rugby league. There was the possibility of reductions in penalties for athletes who provide substantial assistance and testimony in doping investigations, Fahey added.

A few weeks earlier, Australia’s sports minister Kate Lundy she was concerned about not being able to provide names and details from the crime commission report. The sports minister was an important figure at the Canberra news conference that outlined the widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs, and the infiltration of organized criminal groups in the distribution of performance enhancing drugs. Lundy said she feels frustrated at the time because she knew that it would take some time before authorities would be in a position to finalize their investigations and their progress would depend on a lot of cooperation from all parties involved.

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Monday 20, May 2013

  Anti-Doping Allies Recruited By ACC

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Anti-Doping Allies Recruited By ACC

The Australian Crime Commission has gone all guns blazing and is now looking for a range of high-powered law enforcement bodies to help embattled anti-doping officials deal with drugs in sport.

The ACC has been building a broader network of police and government officials behind the scenes to help safeguard the integrity of sport, with the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority under pressure to demonstrate the results of its investigation into the major football codes. The Commission has been distributing intelligence briefs to stakeholders and has convinced the government to allow even more sensitive information to be shared in the future.

In its bombshell report, the ACC alleged widespread doping and illegal drug use among Australian athletes and the Commission found that the use of banned drugs had been “orchestrated and condoned” by coaches, sports scientists, and support staff across multiple sporting codes. It was also found that crime groups were involved in the distribution of banned drugs including hormones and growth-hormone releasing substances called peptides. After the report was released, Jason Clare, the national minister for home affairs and justice said the findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans and added that it’s cheating but it’s worse than that as it’s cheating with the help of criminals and we’re talking about multiple athletes across multiple codes.

The Australian Crime Commission report caused disbelief and controversy in February after the agency issued a warning that sport was under threat from cheats and criminals. The agency has distributed a classified strategic assessment on Project Aperio to state and territory police, Customs, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

The pursuit of ACC towards organized crime figures led investigators to the National Rugby League and the Australian Football League more than a year ago and officials from those codes were only briefed on the threats and not read the assessment prepared in February. The assessment included a series of confidential recommendations to clean up the major football codes and is less diplomatic than the shorter and sanitized version made public a few months ago. The assessment, while the new legislation aims to give stronger powers to the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority, suggests that the government consider leveraging the powers of law enforcement agencies, including the coercive powers of the ACC, to enhance and strengthen the anti-doping arrangements of Australia.

The recommendations were confirmed by Sport Minister Kate Lundy and Justice Minister Jason Clare and included law enforcement bodies and government agencies forging permanent working relationships with ASADA and the newly established National Integrity of Sport Unit.

The Commission is also looking for consistent laws making the supply of drugs banned by the World Anti-doping Agency a criminal offense, punishable by at least an imprisonment of three years, and suggests tighter regulation of the supply of sports supplements, which the Australian government has yet to commit to. A few months back, Opposition spokesman Michael Keenan said a Coalition government would direct the ACC to get back to “chasing the most serious criminals”, but the Australian Crime Commission regards the potential for sport to be infiltrated by organized crime as such a serious threat it wants to re-examine the drug issues within three years.

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Sunday 14, Apr 2013

  NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

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NRL To Launch Whistleblower Program

The Australian National Rugby League has come up with an eight-page whistleblower blueprint of the Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP) and the same has been circulated to all 16 clubs in the wake of the ASADA investigation.

The league recently established an integrity unit and a hotline to call with information about doping offenses and this policy makes it clear that whistleblowers will be granted immunity as an incentive. A few months back, there was a push by NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert to electronically audit clubs, inserting computer chips to download files from their hard drives just before Christmas.

The Whistleblower Protection Program may be implemented by the NRL to show to its stakeholders that every move is being reported or monitored and this latest development will be a drive towards self-policing, with officials, players, and even members of the general public encouraged to tip-off information about doping violations, match-fixing or common disciplinary breaches. The blueprint reads: The NRL should promote a culture that encourages the reporting of (misconduct) by implementing a policy for granting administrative immunity for whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the National Rugby League has justified the whistleblower program as another measure of good corporate governance and transparency and a spokesman said if you’re going to set it up, then you have to go the whole way and put the right structures in place and this structure will include two new roles at League Central wherein a Whistleblower Protection Officer will be appointed to liaise with the informant and assure their complete anonymity while a Whistleblower Investigation Officer will then conduct an inquiry into the complaint before passing on his or her findings directly to NRL boss Dave Smith. The entire process would begin with a phone call to a 1300 hotline, an email to a dedicated address or letter to a specific post office box.

The document reads the importance of reporting corrupt and illegal practices and the NRL’s reasons for such reporting should be part of a formalized training program and this should be done as part of any NRL induction and via ongoing training emphasizing the undesirability of malicious or vexatious reporting and those who come forward with false or vindictive complaints could find themselves in the firing line. Whistleblowers will be granted “administrative immunity” from disciplinary proceedings as long as they have not engaged in serious misconduct or illegal activity and players & officials will be regularly educated about the importance of reporting misconduct.

The league has already been approached with two companies with offers to collect the information, with STOPline the preferred provider thanks to its work with Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner. At this point of time, the document is adamant that the stakeholders must be indoctrinated from the moment they join the game. The trick will be to encourage players and officials to actually use the hotline. Meanwhile, many officials, players and agents were shocked and underwhelmed about the concept of the Australian National Rugby League encouraging a culture of dobbing. The NRL, however, remarked that the program won’t be implemented until feedback is gathered from the clubs, who received the document last month.

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Wednesday 27, Mar 2013

  Sharks Feared Doping Before Sports Scientist Left

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Sharks Feared Doping Before Sports Scientist Left

An email trail linking the four sacked members of the football department of the Sharks reveals they feared possible doping breaches at the club at least two months before sports scientist, Stephen Dank, was told to leave, on May 29, 2011.

Hard copies of emails, dating from March 2011, which linked football manager Darren Mooney, club doctor David Givney, physiotherapist Konrad Schultz and trainer Mark Noakes show they could have informed the Cronulla board much earlier about the possible use of performance enhancing drugs at the club and the trail included a warning from a doctor at another National Rugby League club. The NRL confirmed information obtained by the Deloitte Forensic and funded by the NRL has been sent to ASADA.

The team conducted their own inquiry that resulted in the sacking of the four staff and the standing down of coach Shane Flanagan because of the failure of management practices. Flanagan has subsequently been reinstated after hard-copy evidence suggested that he was not a part of the email trail. He was also reinstated as the Cronulla board clearly sees him as a mentor who can offer sound advice to the 14 Sharks players being investigated by ASADA. The emails, however, suggested that the four sacked members of the football department could have acted sooner against Dank and trainer Trent Elkin.

Flanagan is signed for a further two years and if any of the 14 players accepted a ban of six months, they would be back for the 2014 season. The Australian Anti-Doping Agency will be recommending some six-month penalties via its ability to offer a maximum 75 per cent discount of a doping ban of two years, after a player offers ”substantial assistance”.

Hooker John Morris, who has taken on a leadership role within the team and played for Cronulla in 2011 at the time players allegedly took performance enhancing substances, said the sage had been tough on the players but remarked they were comfortable with the legal advice provided by former ASADA chief counsel Richard Redman. The Australian Anti-Doping Agency, after interviewing coach Shane Flanagan and the four sacked members of the side’s football operations staff earlier this month, wants to interview 31 NRL players, including 14 current Sharks and eight former players who were at the club in 2011, as well as others now in Super League.

Morris, with Isaac De Gois sidelined by a hamstring injury, started at hooker against the Warriors and was one of the best of the Sharks and teammates admitted he has been a rock off the field. Morris further added that everyone thinks the place is falling apart, but you get in here after a game like that and you see the energy and the effort the boys are putting in week in and week out … it speaks volumes for the pride the boys have in the jumper.

Presently, the Sharks are at the end point of an 18-month investigation that started with the detection of imported peptides from China. However, the agents may escape without any penalty as ASADA merely makes recommendations to a sport’s judiciary and cannot demand an interview of anyone not contracted to a club; it has no sanctioning powers.

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