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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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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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