Canberra Raiders winger Sandor Earl says he’s ‘‘shocked’’ by allegations he used peptides to aid his recovery from shoulder problems while he was at Penrith in 2011 and denies any wrongdoing.
In a statement released by the Raiders, Earl said he was considerating defamation action. Channel Nine made the allegations on Thursday night, naming Earl, who recently signed to play rugby union in France with Pau, as using peptides at a private clinic in Cabramatta without the knowledge of Penrith officials at the time.
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Earl responded via a club statement: “I was shocked at the allegations raised last night and I absolutely deny any wrongdoing. My solicitors have already begun investigating defamation procedures.”
A Raiders spokesperson confirmed Earl would still replace injured winger Edrick Lee in the Raiders team for Saturday’s game against his old club Penrith, at Canberra Stadium.
“The Canberra Raiders have always co-operated and will continue to do so with ASADA,” Raiders chief executive officer Don Furner said.
“ASADA have been the ones carrying out the investigation and it has to run its course.
“The NRL has made it clear that if ASADA brings forward evidence to issue an infraction notice then they will act immediately.
“That has not happened and we will not engage in any speculation before that – it is both unfair, improper and not an area I’d speculate on.
“All our players are subject to the same process as every player in both codes and will deal with the appropriate authority ASADA. Our understanding is that ASADA put its interviews on hold some weeks ago.
“If any of our players are requested to attend an interview with ASADA I am sure they will cooperate. The Raiders support the processes of ASADA and will stand by any of our players throughout this process.”
A source close to Earl confirmed on Thursday night that, having become frustrated with the medical systems in place at Penrith, he was recommended to a specialist in musculoskeletal rehabilitation in an effort to get him back on the field.
An NRL spokesman would not be drawn on the allegations, maintaining the administration would let the ongoing investigation by ASADA run its course.
''The answer is the ASADA investigation is for ASADA, and we're not going to speculate on the investigation or any information contained in the investigation,'' the spokesman said. ''It's got a course to run, and that's what we'll do.''
Panthers executive general manager of rugby league Phil Gould added: ''We have absolutely no knowledge of these allegations so we can't make a comment.''
Before the allegations were aired, Earl spoke to Fairfax Media about his recall, saying: ''I've definitely got a point to prove. I've played them [Penrith] twice now and it's one-all, I'm looking for a square-up, that's for sure and keep our record going at home. I haven't played for about three weeks and feel really fresh. I guess that [Lee's injury] is the nature of the beast, that's football. I've had my own little struggles with injury [at Penrith] and that opened the door for other guys to take their chance … It's come 360 again.''
Fairfax Media reported in March that controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank had arranged a secret try-out for Earl with Essendon when he was working for the AFL club last year.
Earl admitted he knew Dank but was emphatic the sports scientist had not administered any treatment to him.
''No, no, no,'' Earl said at the time. ''I know him, but not, like, properly … he didn't have a proper role [at Penrith] like everyone else.''
Earl's Canberra teammate Joel Thompson came out in support of the winger on Twitter on Thursday night.
''People are so quickly to judge before anything is proven... They need to remember innocent until proved guilty #alwaysstandbymymates,'' he tweeted.