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Cronulla Sharks players receive show-cause notices from ASADA

Date

Adrian Proszenko and Chris Barrett

Tight-lipped: John Morris, centre, and Anthony Tupou try to avoid the waiting media after meeting with lawyers.

Tight-lipped: John Morris, centre, and Anthony Tupou try to avoid the waiting media after meeting with lawyers. Photo: Jessica Hromas/Getty Images

Players involved at Cronulla during the club's controversial 2011 supplements program have been told they will receive show-cause notices at a series of meetings with ASADA and the NRL on Wednesday.

Seventeen players are set to be issued notices as the anti-doping body attempts to bring the protracted saga to a head. Fairfax Media revealed three months ago that number were in ASADA's sights.

Cronulla on Wednesday afternoon released a statement which said "Players have been offered a proposal regarding a possible suspension, which they need to consider before the weekend, with the players to consult with their legal representatives over the next two days in relation to their individual circumstances".

Sharks circling: Wade Graham and Nathan Gardner leave a meeting with their lawyers in Pitt St.

Sharks circling: Wade Graham and Nathan Gardner leave a meeting with their lawyers in Pitt St. Photo: Jessica Hromas/Getty Images

The club said five players currently contracted to the club have received ‘show cause’ notices from ASADA - captain Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Anthony Tupou and retiring hooker John Morris.

"The Sharks will continue to act in the best interests of the players and are providing ongoing support, both to those issued with the notices as well as others in the club, while solicitors acting for the players will continue to manage the process on their behalf. At this point in time the Cronulla Sharks Football Club will be making no further comment on any matter relating to the ASADA investigation or today’s developments," according to the statement.

The 17 players face the prospect of up to two years on the sidelines. However, it is understood the players could receive back-dated one-year suspensions from November last year which would result in practical playing bans of less than one month, served at the end of this season, as revealed by Fairfax Media earlier this week.

"I'm 100 per cent positive I've never taken anything that's been on any banned list": Cronulla captain Paul Gallen

"I'm 100 per cent positive I've never taken anything that's been on any banned list": Cronulla captain Paul Gallen Photo: Getty Images

ASADA released a statement to say the notices related "to the use of prohibited substances, CJC-1295 and GHRP-6, during the 2011 season".

"The decision to issue ‘show cause’ notices by ASADA CEO, Ben McDevitt is based on evidence collected during the 16 month investigation. Prior to issuing the ‘show cause’ notices the evidence was reviewed by former Federal Court Judge the Hon. Garry Downes and ASADA senior legal counsel. Based on his assessment of the evidence, the ASADA CEO has reached the conclusion that the players have a case to answer under the World Anti-Doping Code. Once the ASADA CEO reaches a conclusion that a possible violation has occurred, it is his duty under legislation to put formal allegations to players and invite them to respond. Players have 10 days to lodge a submission in response to the ‘show cause’ notices. This information along with the evidence collected by ASADA will be put to the independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel (the Panel) for consideration," according to the statement.

An NRL spokesman said: "We are aware that ASADA has commenced the process of issuing show cause notices to certain players who were at the Cronulla Club in 2011. This is a process that may or may not lead to players being placed on the register of findings. This process is governed by the National Anti-Doping Scheme and players have been invited to make submissions to ASADA in response to the notices."

Hitching a ride: Paul Gallen drives Wade Graham, John Morris, Anthony Tupou and Nathan Gardner from the Bligh St meeting.

Hitching a ride: Paul Gallen drives Wade Graham, John Morris, Anthony Tupou and Nathan Gardner from the Bligh St meeting. Photo: Michael Carayannis

Former ASADA lawyer Richard Redman, who represents a number of Sharks players, and Gallen's legal representative, Stephen Glass, declined to comment.

Thoughts are with my brothers @Cronulla_Sharks going through the #ASADA drama. Proud of how you guys have handled yourselves #Brothers

The meetings were held at a series of locations in Sydney's central business district, with reporters spotting Gardner chauffering some of his teammates to the "information session".

The players could receive a six-month ban should they provide "substantial assistance" which results in the convictions of fellow players or staffers. Should that be the case, the majority of the bans would be served in the off season, resulting in just a handful of matches being missed.

Graham, Morris, Tupou and Gardner were seen leaving the offices of Redman, who represents 10 of the players involved.

There are nine players from the 2011 squad still playing in the NRL who may be affected: Gallen, Graham, Tupou and Gardner, Gold Coast’s Luke Douglas and Albert Kelly, Newcastle’s Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith and North Queensland back Matthew Wright.

Earlier today, Gallen spoke about the drama on Sydney radio.

"There is two ways to look at it. There's obviously a lot of rumour going around the past couple of days and the boys have spoken about it. Our mind and our mood changes every couple of minutes," Gallen told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast on Wednesday morning.

"At one stage (we were thinking) 'Thank God, this is going to be over hopefully, whatever happens is going to happen and we can just get on with life'. Because closure on this thing would just be unbelievable...what we've gone through the past two seasons.

"But then you say 'let's stuff this, we've done nothing wrong'. It's a real hard situation to be in. I know we've spoken about over the past couple of years how much we've gone through but really what I've told you and what we've been through I can't explain it to you. The next couple of days are going to be interesting."

The NSW State of Origin captain would stand to forfeit his Test spot in the post-season Four Nations international tournament if he agreed to a deal and took a six-month ban, as well as losing potential income from several boxing bouts he has in the works. The 33-year-old said, however, that there was far more at stake than a major hit to the bank balance.

"You can't get those games for Australia back," Gallen said. "But it's your reputation; it's what I've built over the last 15 plus years in training full time and getting to where I've got to in the game. That's tarnished now already, but if we do this we're going to be labelled a drug cheat, no matter what. It's a tough situation to be in."

He added: "I'm 100 per cent positive I've never taken anything that's been on any banned list. I can say that, yeah."

Gallen said he had discussed with his legal team whether he should be wary of making any major decisions before Essendon's case against ASADA in the Federal Court had reached a verdict. He said it had been frustrating to hear revelations out of the court of political interference in the now 18-month saga. "I've asked them about that and we're not 100 per cent sure, because (my lawyer) believes that they're probably going to try and back us into a corner where we have to make a decision, basically ASAP before the Essendon thing is over," he said. "But as I said we don't know that for sure yet."

6 comments so far

  • you would think after two years and all the B.S. ASADA and the NRL who come up with something stronger that show-cause notices it still sound like someone went off half cocked and doesn't know how the hell how to get out of it if they can't get someone to fiss up.

    Commenter
    roger
    Date and time
    August 20, 2014, 3:20PM
    • This is now too long after the fact. Blanket drug tests should be done at the start of the year and before the first origin then all bans should be done based on that. The show cause also should have been done when most of the information came to light before last years final series. Even then way too late but it would have caused issues to the club and this is a club caused incident. Now with the disbursement of the players involved over half the NRL clubs are going to be affected by loosing players because of a decision at Cronulla. There is no real impairment to Cronulla now as the chances of them making the finals is nil. Yes the stigma and loss of sponsorship but that does not return any advantage back to the other competitors in the comp..

      Commenter
      Mike D
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 6:18AM
  • What's a show-cause notice

    Commenter
    BananaMiriam
    Date and time
    August 20, 2014, 7:16PM
    • If the players believe they have done nothing wrong the should stick with it The Club (employer) has already been fined for lack of duty of care, if they take the reduced ban, they are then guilty, and they will then have WADA overrule ASADA on the length of the ban, WADA would increase the ban according to JohnFahey ... In another 3 years or so this would still be going on which would only leave the likes of Wade Graham left in NRL as the rest would be retired

      Commenter
      Captain Feathersword
      Location
      The Winner is
      Date and time
      August 20, 2014, 8:44PM
      • gee 18 months ago hundreds of post, now just two.Unfortunately for Sharks ,due to international sports politics, this embellished soap opera will have to be played out, for the benefit of the sporting establishment ,All I see is lawyers at 40 paces.Like James Hird why should the Sharks players be the scapegoat.ASADA are not clean here either,but they have unlimited resources(our money) to defend themselves.

        Commenter
        farkurnell
        Location
        sydney
        Date and time
        August 20, 2014, 8:53PM
        • If these dopes knowingly and willing took dope then they deserve appropriate and harsh penalties out of respect for those players who obey the rules and don't take dope. Simple!

          Commenter
          tahrahrah
          Location
          sydney
          Date and time
          August 20, 2014, 9:41PM

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