Rugby League


Raiders chief lashes probe's 'innuendo, poor timing'

Canberra Raiders chairman John McIntyre has criticised the timing of doping allegations levelled at six NRL clubs, claiming everything so far is ''innuendo'' and is taking the gloss off the upcoming season.

And one of the club's foundation sponsors believes the Raiders are ''squeaky clean'' and are being unfairly dragged through the mud on the eve of the new campaign.

The Raiders were one of six clubs named in the Australian Crime Commission's report into sports doping and corruption, but no details have been released publicly as to why they are being investigated.

Fairfax Media understands the Raiders have been implicated for an isolated allegation of doping.

They are one of two clubs, along with the North Queensland Cowboys, that have not been audited as part of the investigation.

McIntyre, who did not attend a confidential briefing with the NRL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in Sydney on Tuesday, said the damaging allegations couldn't have come at a worse time with the NRL season opener three weeks away.


''I wouldn't imagine there'd be anything untoward found, I'm very confident of that,'' he said. ''While we fully support stamping out drugs in sport, it puts everybody involved at the Raiders under pressure.

''We [Australian sport] have virtually become a laughing stock through something that is highly secretive.''

The doping controversy has taken the spotlight away at a time when the focus on the NRL should be on the upcoming season.

The Raiders have already had a bright start, with six players involved in last weekend's All Stars game.

McIntyre said he had spoken to a couple of sponsors in the wake of the doping allegations, and the general consensus was that it was ''a storm in a teacup''.

He didn't expect any significant departures and was confident memberships wouldn't be affected.

Canberra Milk managing director Garry Sykes, whose company has sponsored the Raiders since their inception in 1982, had no doubt the Raiders would be proven innocent.

''I honestly believe the Raiders are squeaky clean,'' Sykes said.

''[Raiders coach] Dave Furner knows everything that's going on there and he's not the sort of guy who'd allow anything untoward to happen.

''I just think it's terrible those six clubs have been named.

''Manly came out and said they've got nothing to worry about, and I'll tell you now, neither have the Raiders.

''The sad part about it is I think we're in for a bumper season, as far as the Raiders are concerned.''