The Australian Rugby League Commission will receive a report on December 11 detailing an investigation into drug protocols at the NRL's 16 clubs and may table recommendations on sanctions against clubs, coaches and medical and training staff.

If so, the ARLC could be expected to announce any bans and punishments before Christmas.

The investigation has been headed by the code's new general manager of integrity and general counsel, Nick Weeks, a brilliant young lawyer recruited from the Australian Rugby Union.

The December 11 ARLC board meeting will be its last for the year, with chairman John Grant anxious to finalise the code's governance issues. Should there be any bans against coaches and head trainers, requiring the appointment of new club staff, the ARLC would want them to be in position before training recommences in the new year.

Weeks' questioning of clubs has been independent of any investigation carried out by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. ASADA and the NRL were jointly involved in interviews with players but the two organisations reached a fork in the road with regard to investigations of support staff, such as coaches and trainers, with Weeks conducting his own inquiries.

The ASADA investigation into players is ongoing, with infraction notices to be served when the anti-doping authority is confident it has compelling evidence.

NRL rules against clubs on anti-doping rule violations include fines to $1 million, suspended fines to $1 million, deduction of current and future competition points , a suspended sanction of points, exclusion from the competition and a deduction of any financial grants.

While Weeks held interviews with all NRL clubs over doping procedures, the probe into the Cronulla Sharks was more detailed.

It followed a report, commissioned by the old Sharks board, after sensational allegations at an Australian Crime Commission press conference in February.

The report, termed the Kavanagh report, found that 27 Sharks players could have prima facie committed anti-doping rule violations between rounds 2 and 12 in 2011, being administered with two drugs, GHRP-6 and CJC-1295, via injection, creams and also lozenges.

The board then sacked four officials and stood coach Shane Flanagan down. Flanagan would be the most high-profile target for any action by the ARLC.

Flanagan's involvement, according to the Kavanagh report, began with he and trainer Trent Elkin informing the Cronulla players on the eve of a round 2, 2011 match that the club was embracing a new supplements regime. Sports scientist Stephen Dank was the architect of the new drugs plan, which he called a player welfare program.

It appears the club's staff made no steps to consult with ASADA whether the drugs were banned, or even approved for human use.

Only one Sharks official - observing the labelling on the drugs - recorded the names of these substances but did not check with ASADA until after the ''blackest day in Australian sport'' bombshell. The Kavanagh report indicates Flanagan distanced himself from any use of the substances and states there is insufficient evidence for ASADA to issue an infraction notice against him as a support person.

Hypothetically, as head coach, the ARLC could charge him with bringing the game into disrepute in that he allowed Dank to introduce the supplements program.

Flanagan was not party to the early email exchange when club officials first became concerned about Dank's activities.

He was told of the significant reservations of club medico Dr Dave Givney, on April 6, 2011, and did act on May 29, 2011, when he attended a meeting of the club training and medical staff where it was resolved Dank's services be dispensed with.

The Kavanagh report claimed Dank threatened to sue if Flanagan said or implied he was involved in any wrongdoing.

Insofar as Cronulla did not have a chief executive in 2011 and had limited resources to assist a coach to fight a charge of defamation, this may have inhibited Flanagan from reporting this to his board, or the NRL. Should action be taken against Flanagan, comparisons are inevitable with the one-year suspension the AFL handed Essendon coach, James Hird, after their joint investigation with ASADA.

If Flanagan received the same ban, it could be perceived as harsh. While both coaches were in their first year and hired Dank on the recommendation of their trainers, Essendon's injection program lasted a whole year, compared to Cronulla's five weeks.