Anxious clubs wait on call from NRL
Jarryd Hayne: ''You have got to name them - that is how everyone feels.'' Photo: Getty Images
NRL players at several clubs are living in a climate of fear as they wait to learn whether they have been caught up in the doping scandal to hit the code and other Australian sports.
Fairfax Media has been told that a number of players, including at least one star, are worried they may have taken a banned substance and are bracing for the fallout.
Rumours are also doing the rounds in league circles that some players have tested positive but the results were withheld and they have instead been placed under surveillance by Australian Crime Commission investigators.
Until details are passed on from the NRL to the clubs, the number of which Fairfax Media has been told may be as high as seven, most players are reluctant to come forward because few know what the ACC is interested in.
Fairfax Media revealed in 2008 that Manly players were being injected with calves' blood, but the product, Actovagin, was not on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's banned list and Fairfax Media has since heard that other clubs considered using it.
It has also been told of one club where players were given a substance labelled for ''equine use only'', while a star player is said to have complained to former teammates about being injected in the stomach.
Another may have switched clubs this season because he was unhappy with requests from the club's sports science department.
Few want to believe anything they were given by club officials could be illegal and there is a culture of not breaking ranks with teammates.
Players have even questioned who they would be talking to if they contacted the new ASADA hotline announced by the NRL.
Instead, they want the commission and NRL to name those under suspicion, to restore reputations.
''You have got to name them - that is how everyone feels,'' Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne said after arriving back in Sydney on Sunday from the All-Stars match.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell have called for clubs to out themselves. But apart from an email sent by new NRL boss Dave Smith on Sunday advising that further detail would be provided soon, club bosses are unsure if they or their players are involved.
Smith said the NRL was working closely with the commission to be able to advise clubs in the next 48 hours that are involved.
Officials rejected complaints that the AFL had been able to hold a news conference on Sunday to discuss the extent of the drugs problem in their code, while the NRL remained silent. The AFL had been commenting on its own internal investigation and not the one conducted by the ACC.
Auditors have been sent to Manly, Cronulla, Penrith and Newcastle - sparking speculation they are among the clubs under investigation.
The Sea Eagles, Sharks and Panthers all have had links with Steve Dank, the sports science guru at the centre of the investigation into substance use at the AFL club Essendon. Dank will break his silence on ABC television's 7.30 Report on Monday.
''I will be absolutely amazed if the NRL does not clarify more detail before then,'' one club boss said.
But Smith said after an all-day NRL management meeting it may be another day before the clubs are advised which are under scrutiny.