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Gallen hits out at NRL's lack of support for Cronulla players over ASADA investigation

Sudden impact: Paul Gallen says the stress of the ASADA probe forced him to put family plans on hold.

Sudden impact: Paul Gallen says the stress of the ASADA probe forced him to put family plans on hold. Photo: Getty Images

On the eve of arguably the biggest moment in Paul Gallen's career, the Blues skipper has hit out at the NRL, saying they have done "basically nothing" for Cronulla players and that his teammates were suffering with mental health issues after the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into the club.

A candid Gallen also revealed that the investigation had taken a personal toll and prevented him from having his third child with wife Anne.

Revelations that Essendon players received show-cause notices from ASADA last week has again put Gallen and Cronulla in the spotlight. Gallen said the mental welfare of Sharks teammates and officials was his greatest concern.

"I don't think any of the players aren't worried about [ASADA's investigations]," Gallen said. "The NRL has had the biggest [mental health concern] in history right under its nose and basically done nothing about it. That's very, very frustrating for me because what I have seen some young guys go through the past 17 or 18 months has been disgraceful. They're still going through it, we still don't know what's going on.

"Some very young guys, what they have had to go through, has been too much. As far as I am concerned, there has been very little help.

"We have had players medicated, we have had staff and officials who have been hospitalised. It's terrible."

Gallen was reluctant to speak about his dealings with the NRL but said he had "done everything" to resolve the investigations into his club's supplements program from 2011.

An NRL spokesman said officials had met with the Sharks players “many times” and offered counselling and that the NRL fund a welfare manager at Cronulla and the 15 other NRL clubs.

“As recently as last week the NRL offered assistance to deal with any anxiety among the Sharks players following the Essendon developments,” the spokesman said. “The club advised us that the players were unanimously of the view that they wanted to focus on improving their on-field performance and did not need any assistance.

“The message from the players has always been that they simply want this matter brought to a conclusion. The NRL agrees that the process has taken too long and we would also like to see the matter concluded.”

ASADA boss Ben McDevitt said last week that Cronulla's circumstances were different to that of Essendon. However, it is believed that a decision on whether to issue show-cause notices to Cronulla players may be made before the end of the month.

Gallen said he had essentially been living in fear since the Sharks were dragged into the investigation after the "blackest day for Australian sport" news conference in February last year.

"I would have had another kid by now if this wasn't going on," Gallen said. "It's been horrendous, it's been disgraceful.

"Last year was so intense with it all and this year it seems to come up every couple of weeks. When it comes up, you're like 'here we go, is it coming tomorrow?'

"It has been a real shame it has become a part of life and, every time it comes up, I just wait for the next phone call or the cameras to be in my face because, at the end of the day, no one is worried [about] some of the lesser named players at Cronulla. They're concerned about me, which has been the most frustrating thing from day one."

Sharks players were told as far back as last March to consider accepting a six-month suspension or risk a potential two-year ban.

Gallen said despite the drawn-out investigations he was no clearer to an outcome.

"This is as honest answer as I can give, from day one, from the time Cronulla got brought into it which was a week or so after that press conference, I don't know anything," Gallen said. 

"Nothing has changed for me. I have been told to turn up to a meeting. I turned up at that meeting. Other than that, I don't know anything. We don't know anything, our lawyers don't know anything. We literally do not know what is going to happen.”

Cronulla chairman Damian Keogh added: ''That's a major part which I just think has been lost in this whole thing, player welfare, player anxiety and all those things. Also, it's something that our supporters have gone through."


  • Complete load of self serving tripe by Gallen. All the talk about the poor players having to be medicated because of stress etc. Perhaps if they hadn't been "medicating" before hand then they wouldn't be in this mess. Also, if Mr Gallen is innocent of all charges and inferences why would that have an impact on whether or not he and his wife could concieve another child....he has nothing to worry about right? Or am I missing something?

    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 1:15AM
    • Spot on.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 8:54AM
    • Yes Gallen if you just told ASADA what you did or didn't know this could have been over for you in a matter days.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:00AM
    • Agreed.

      If he's innocent then why is he worrying? Just go to ASADA, tell them everything u know, cop the consequences. If you did nothing wrong, nothing will happen.

      Cronulla should have opened the books, fessed up, this would have been resolved early last year and they would have moved on.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:08AM
    • Not only are you "missing something" you have lost the plot.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:17AM
    • In fairness to Gallon if you had dozens of sports journalists all looking for an angle to keep the story alive and fresh, any comments you make will come out as self serving, whingeing or a slight on the NRL ASADA or any or related acronym.
      The comments generally are right: the ASADA process is slow but then all justice systems are (because they rely on the presumption of innocence and the person making allegations to provide proof); Cronulla's cooperation and that of the players interviewed has been less than ideal (whether it is because of elements of guilt or potential outcomes that could impact on your career) and the NRL could have provided additional support to players (although no one indicates what this additional support may look like).
      We pay these players exorbitant amounts because of the pressure we as a society put on our "elite" sports people.
      Like the rest of us if they cannot handle the pressure they have the option go do something else (may not pay as much but many of us have changed to less well paying jobs at one time or another) and like the rest of us they are bound by a set of rules.
      Let the process play out and acknowledge that in these circumstances there will not be too many winners: not the players, their families, the clubs, the NRL or ASADA.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 9:35AM
    • Just because you're innocent doesn't mean you have nothing to worry about. Think about all the crap he would cop on the street and on the field from "fans" who would call him a cheat. All that would take a toll on you mentally

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 10:26AM
    • Seriously, the real problem was the then Labor ministers for sport and health wanting to make a big announcement to divert attention away from the appalling mess their party was intent on making this country. Sport and politics should never mix, it put all the CEO's of the sport in a bad position, it put ASADA in a completely impossible position to undertake discreet inquiries, and created an ongoing saga that everyone is sick to death of.

      Col the Pariah
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 10:28AM
    • All that is missing from the image of Gallen is a halo.
      The bloke is an absolute angel and never, ever does anything to incite the problems which seem to have followed him throughout his Rugby League career.

      Man on the Hill
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 1:08PM
    • Gallen's livelihood and reputation is on the line. I have a lot of empathy for him. Mud sticks. Allegations even if never proven leave a bad smell. He already has a media career that is threatened by what currently amounts to unsubstantiated gossip. The legal process for this investigation is almost an Australian first and involves a lot of uncertainty and the rather strange proving of innocence. It's been dragged out for a ridiculous amount of time. Gallen's a person like all of us and the fear of losing everything must be causing him a lot of stress. I would think that a major concern would be that the process is so flippant that an innocent player could be wrongly convicted. He shouldn't be bagged for voicing his concerns about the process. I'd like a reply to his comments from ASADA. What chance will even Gallen get of that. If you've got something to charge him and everyone else with then why not charge him? I feel a defamation case coming on. Lastly, the darkest day in sport made special mention of illegal betting syndicates. Again absolutely nothing in the way of prosecutions.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 3:15PM

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