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Cronulla Sharks players accept doping bans

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Smith: 'these are tough times'

NRL chief executive Dave Smith responds to Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and nine current players accepting an ASADA deal for their involvement in the supplements program at the club in 2011.

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Cronulla captain Paul Gallen is one of 10 current NRL players to accept an ASADA deal that would result in a 12-month ban, backdated to November 2013, for their involvement in the supplements program at the club in 2011.

The players, who are set to be stood down immediately by the NRL, agreed to the deal on Friday morning after receiving assurances from the World Anti-Doping Agency that it would not appeal against the terms.

Cronulla teammates Nathan Gardner, Wade Graham and Anthony Tupou are all understood to have accepted the deal, along with Newcastle's Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden, Titans halfback Albert Kelly and prop Luke Douglas plus North Queensland centre Matthew Wright.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen. Photo: Getty Images

The suspension rules Gallen out of the upcoming Four Nations tournament for Australia, while Smith will be unable to represent New Zealand.

With the exception of Wright, the other players would, in effect, serve a three-match club playing ban as they would be ruled out for the rest of the season.

Wright will miss the finals with the Cowboys and the Four Nations tournament for Samoa.

Albert Kelly is now at the Gold Coast Titans.

Albert Kelly is now at the Gold Coast Titans. Photo: Getty Images

Super League-based players Paul Aiton and Ben Pomeroy are understood to have rejected the offer.

It is understood the players made the decision after being told WADA was "comfortable" with the backdated bans

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed Knights players Smith and Snowden are among those players who accepted the bans.

Paul Aiton plays with the Leeds Rhinos in the English Super League.

Paul Aiton plays with the Leeds Rhinos in the English Super League. Photo: Getty Images

"Two players have been withdrawn this morning," Bennett told reporters at training on Friday.

"They accepted their ASADA breach notices so Jeremy [Smith] and Kade Snowden won't be playing.

"Under the terms of reference they have deemed to have served a period of time, and have been given a three month suspension and will be available some time in November ...they have to accept the situation, the reality of it all.

"Of course it was a difficult choice ... I have no understanding of the other 15 players involved, it was when they were at Cronulla in 2011.

"They are at our club, they are playing for the club, we are the face of it they have to take their medicine and so do we.

"At least it won't be hanging over their heads.

"It has had a huge impact right across the game, the NRL to their credit taken action against Cronulla, they have suspended the coach, fined the club and suspended a trainer.

"Hopefully this is the last part of it now ASADA taking action against players and now we can all move on.

NRL boss David Smith said he hoped the 18-month investigation was finally reaching a conclusion.

"I'm not completely up to date as to who has decided to do what, but I do know that process is going on in the background for all the players that were issued with show cause [notices]," Smith told Channel Nine.

"If we can bring the thing to an end, if we can get the right response whereby the punishment fits the crime, whereby anybody that is involved with the game that has had a duty of care is not involved in our game any more, and we can finally put this behind us, then the right things have taken place in the right way and I think we have managed the process pretty well so far.

"Then of course we will all be happy and the fans will be happy and the game can move on and we have some clear blue air next season."

- with AAP

141 comments so far

  • Let's hope this means we're at the end of all this garbage!

    Commenter
    Todd
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 22, 2014, 10:35AM
    • So if they are suspended from November last year, does that mean every game they played this year was essentially under suspension. If so should the result be set aside and the match removed from the records like the NRL did to Melbourne when they were caught cheating the salary cap?

      Commenter
      Scotty
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 12:19PM
    • unfortunately probably not.

      at least not until they have better detecting methods and they catch all the other guys that have done it.

      Commenter
      concerned
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 12:42PM
    • Drug testing in sport is a joke. It's just a smoke screen for governing bodies to keep up appearances for sponsors and the public. There is no such thing as clean sport when money is involved.

      Commenter
      bw
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 1:19PM
    • Clearly the ban is because they might have taken something but nobody is sure if they did because there is no evidence, so just in case, in order to save face for ASADA and not waste a third season for Cronulla, because it doesn't matter now anyway, and really no one cares, they can miss 3 matches and we can all forget about it. Fabtastic.

      Commenter
      GOV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 1:41PM
    • bw, there was no drug testing involved. It was all supposition and hypothesis. No evidence ever existed.

      Commenter
      GOV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 1:46PM
    • bw do you think money is the only reason people cheat? been plenty of people caught cheating in amateur sports also where there isnt real potential for money.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 2:06PM
    • Is this some stupid joke - ASADA are a bunch of muppets. Where is the general deterrence precedent here??

      Given that he was playing origin as a banned player will they now hand 2014 Origin to QLD?

      Commenter
      Billybob
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 2:55PM
    • Sadly those who know the least are the ones who comment the most. If you don' have the facts do not comment.

      Commenter
      Ted
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 3:11PM
    • @GOV - That is the point. Drug testing is so pathetic that ASADA is forced to rely on what you call supposition and hypothesis. If someone wants to cheat, it's very easy to do and never get caught if you have the right people around you.

      @Mike - It goes without saying that their are tools who cheat in amateur sport for whatever sad reason. The point is that it's naive to believe there is no cheating when there is big money on the line.

      Commenter
      bw
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2014, 3:34PM

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