"Our brand image is tied up with those who we sponsor" ... David Thodey, chief executive of Telstra.
THE NRL's $100million sponsorship deal with Telstra could be in jeopardy if the Australian Crime Commission report results in adverse publicity for the code.
Telstra has been the naming rights sponsor for the NRL since 2001, and renewed the deal for another five years in December last year.
''Our brand image is tied up with those who we sponsor, so if there is untoward behaviour that we don't agree with, we would make our position very clear. We will always do that,'' Telstra chief executive David Thodey said on Thursday.
''We've always been very clear in terms of our sponsorships, even when the NRL had a bad time going back two seasons ago. I understand stories come and go but we will need to look at the detail and make our decision.''
Findings from an investigation by the ACC on Thursday lifted the lid on widespread use of banned drugs in professional sport - and also links with organised crime and one possible instance of match fixing.
The 12-month investigation, codenamed Project Aperio, focused primarily on two major sporting codes in Australia.
Although no code, team or individual was identified, NRL chief executive David Smith confirmed he had been briefed on information that affects ''more than one NRL player and more than one NRL club''.
Smith said the NRL was already working with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority to get to the bottom of the issue.
''We've been working with the Crime Commission on a range of issues that are outlined in the report,'' Smith said. ''We have already begun with ASADA - we've begun the investigation. We need to be strong. The sport deserves it, our fans deserve it, the majority of our athletes deserve us to be strong.''
The NRL also said it would establish a register of people supplying performance services to players and clubs. That was in addition to sanctions being imposed on any club or player found concealing information about a breach of the NRL anti-doping policy.
''It's quite clear this is a very serious issue,'' he said. ''What we know and history tells us is that you will get caught. We are adding resources - we're totally committed.''
NRL superstars Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis admitted they were stunned by the investigation's findings and welcomed moves to ensure the code was clean.
''Personally, we need to support the NRL here to get this out of our code and, like everyone else, I am shocked,'' Thurston said.
Inglis said he hoped the investigation would stamp out anything that could tarnish the game.
''We have to keep our game clean. It's such a great product,'' he said. ''I would love to see this resolved in a quick manner but there is still more investigation to do but we all want to see it rubbed out.''
Brisbane, Queensland and Australian great Darren Lockyer played 458 rugby league games and never once saw any signs of drug taking.
And he was never approached to throw a match despite the influence he had on a game.
A 50-plus page report following a 12-month probe by the Australian Crime Commission blew the lid open on Thursday exposing widespread use of drugs across all Australian sporting codes.
''Supplements are part of all professional sport,'' said Lockyer, who retired in 2011 with a record 355 NRL games, 36 State of Origin games for Queensland and 59 Tests. ''Players put their trust in the club that they were providing them with legal substances. We all took them.''
Lockyer, who played until he was 34, said every athlete was looking for an edge. But he said players were well informed and educated about what they could and couldn't take and they put their faith in the people who worked at the clubs to advise them correctly. ''The Broncos always looked to be innovative but they were also honest and trustworthy,'' he said.