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Raiders to be investigated

Date

Chris Wilson and Lee Gaskin

Raiders chief Don Furner.

Raiders chief Don Furner. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Canberra Raiders chief executive Don Furner has admitted a lack of information about a pending drug probe into the club is frustrating, as authorities warn the investigation could last months.

Canberra was one of six NRL clubs called to Sydney on Tuesday for a confidential briefing following the Australian Crime Commission's report into sports doping and corruption. Of the six NRL clubs mentioned in the ACC's report, the Raiders and the North Queensland Cowboys have not been audited as part of the investigation.

Mr Furner told ABC radio on Wednesday the way in which the probe was being handled by authorities was “frustrating”, said the club has been informed any investigation could take months.

Former Raider Alan Tongue.

Former Raider Alan Tongue. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT senator and Sports Minister Kate Lundy conceded the process has been difficult for clubs, but said the control of information was to protect privacy.

“There’s absolutely a degree of frustration out there, but that’s because the way in which the process unfolds requires a level of confidentiality,” Ms Lundy told ABC radio.

Ms Lundy commended Mr Furner and the other clubs who were cooperating with the probe.

Former Raiders captain Simon Woolford.

Former Raiders captain Simon Woolford. Photo: Getty Images

“Clubs like Canberra Raiders and other clubs that have all been mentioned publicly now I think have shown they have an extraordinary commitment to solving the problem.”

Mr Furner says he's comfortable opening the club's doors and record books to anti-doping authorities.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) will take charge of the investigation from the ACC report and the six clubs have been informed that it could last months.

ASADA has not yet given any indication that it requires interviews with Raiders players or staff. But the Canberra Times understands the Raiders have been implicated for an isolated allegation of doping.

Furner would not divulge details of Tuesday's briefing by ASADA and the NRL, other than to say the club was supportive of any investigative process.

''I'm very confident in our organisation and the processes we've got in place,'' Furner said. ''I absolutely would welcome ASADA coming and talking to our players.

''I'm clear now on what the investigation is about and I'm happy to open the doors to ASADA and co-operate in any investigation.''

Penrith, Manly, Cronulla, Newcastle, North Queensland and Canberra attended the briefing with the NRL and ASADA. The names or number of players under investigation were not released.

While the NRL claimed on Tuesday that it was bound by laws of confidentiality, former Raiders skipper Alan Tongue said he was frustrated because the lack of detail made everybody look ''dirty''.

Another former Canberra captain, Simon Woolford, said the ACC's report had sparked a ''ridiculous'' hysteria and claimed the investigation had shown more ''bark than bite''. Raiders coach David Furner would not be drawn into discussing the issue, saying his focus was on preparing the club for its final two trials and the NRL season-opener against Penrith on March 10. Furner said his team had shown no signs of distraction at all in Tuesday's training session.

Tongue, however, said the ACC's report had cast an unfair shadow over all players and clubs.

''I think everyone gets tarred with the same brush at the moment, and that isn't fair,'' he said. ''I understand there's a process they have to go through, but the way they're doing it now is damaging a lot of people, not just players but administrations and coaching staff and originations.

''It's disappointing because it's damaging to the club and to players that have got no involvement whatsoever. We're in such an important time of the year, with memberships and getting people on board and excited about the games coming up.''

Tongue, who played 220 NRL matches with the Raiders from 2000-2011, said he'd seen no evidence of doping in his time at the club.

''Nothing at all,'' he said. ''Throughout my whole time at the club, the coaching staff and medical staff and everyone involved always had the best interests at heart and I'm really confident that nothing has gone on, definitely in my time.

''It's almost a little bit frustrating, because everyone wants to know the answers, but it feels like people are sitting on the sidelines throwing mud at you and everybody's dirty, so there's got to be a bit more accountability on their [the ACC's and ASADA's] behalf as well.''

There were high-profile examples of players testing positive to performance-enhancing drugs in the late '90s, including Melbourne's Rodney Howe and Newcastle's Robbie O'Davis.

Woolford, who played with the Raiders from 1994 to 2006, said he'd never come across the use of performance-enhancing drugs and would be shocked if any clubs had tried to implement regimes.

''I've never seen anything personally as far as steroid use or performance-enhancing drug use,'' he said. ''I think it goes without saying that it was more of an issue in the late '80s and '90s.

''I think the bark [of the investigation] is going to be a lot worse than the bite, to be honest. Everyone's hysterical now about whether their team or favourite players are drug cheats. It's quite ridiculous the way it's being played out.

''I'd be very shocked or surprised if there's a club or a group of players who have done the wrong thing intentionally, I just don't think it would happen in any code.

''An individual or two might get caught doing the wrong thing, maybe buying their own supplements and not doing their research. But as far as a group, a club or supplements supplied by a club to its players, I'd be very surprised if the wrong thing's been done there.''

with Hamish Boland-Rudder

3 comments

  • This is farcical. The ACC and Kate Lundy say they cannot release details in the name of ensuring “due process” and confidentiality.

    If they truly respect the rights of players and clubs, why then did they organise a circus of a press conference which essentially tarnished both the AFL and NRL before they had any compelling evidence of guilt?

    Why weren’t the results of the ACC report passed to ASADA in confidence, which could then go about its investigations and make announcements about individual players or clubs once guilt was established?

    Kate Lundy has pretty much lost my vote on this single issue – the degree of incompetence is astonishing.

    Commenter
    Concerned supporter
    Date and time
    February 13, 2013, 9:54AM
    • This is a joke, what this treacherous Government has done is sullied the reputation of all Australian sportsmen and women, all to try and take the heat of Gillard's appalling government. Sure there may be say, 20 in the AFL keeping in mind about 800 play grade AFL and maybe 20 in the NRL and again about 800 play grade NRL , and 6 or 7 teams involved, but was there any reason for this sort of over kill. Sure there maybe be some intelligence reports, but intelligence generally points to evidence rather than proof . News from around the world has a Australia marked as the East Germany of the 21st Century, Shame on this Government.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 13, 2013, 10:43AM
      • Since no details have come forth I dont regard any sporting league as being tarnished. Lighten up everybody, I believe this whole thing is far FAR smaller than the ACC would have us believe.

        Commenter
        jg
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        February 13, 2013, 4:22PM
        Comments are now closed

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