Raiders to open books to investigators
Raiders boss Don Furner says he’s comfortable opening the club’s doors and record books to anti-doping authorities after Canberra was one of six NRL clubs called to Sydney on Tuesday for a briefing on the Australian Crime Commission’s report into sports doping and corruption.
Fairfax Media has learned that 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, indicating they are considered low-risk.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority will take over control of the investigation from the ACC and the six clubs have been informed that it could last months.
ASADA has not yet given any indication that it will interview Raiders players or staff.
‘‘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 cooperate in any investigation. I welcome it.’’
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 revealed.
Penrith general manager Phil Gould - who was last week highly critical of the broad-brush nature in which the report was made public - said he was encouraged by the update provided on Tuesday.
‘‘I’ve been well informed of what they are looking at and how long this process will take and how serious it is and at the end of the day we totally support the process and totally support the work the NRL is doing,’’ Gould said.
‘‘I’m far clearer today [Tuesday] than I was yesterday.’’
Asked if the clubs had been informed as to what investigators were looking into, with allegations of illicit drug use and match-fixing mentioned in the report, Gould said:
‘‘Basically we’re bound by the same confidentiality [as the NRL] now.
‘‘All I can say is that we’re very clear on what ASADA has had to say and we understand this is a drawn out process and totally support it.’’
Earlier on Tuesday, NRL chief executive David Smith said he could not give a timeline on how long the ongoing investigations would take or when specific details might be made public.
‘‘It [the briefings will ASADA] will take the ongoing investigations to the next stage,’’ Smith said.
‘‘I can’t pre-judge how long that will take.’’
Investigators from auditors Deloitte visited the Knights last week, and seven-time premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett said they checked on records as far back as seven years ago.
Bennett, who only took over as Knights coach for the 2012 season, said he had quizzed all staff and players and was confident the current Newcastle set-up have nothing to worry about.
‘‘They want us to confess to something. I’m racking my head what we’ve got to confess to,’’ Bennett said.
‘‘I’ve been through the staff, I’ve checked with all the players.
‘‘Whatever they’re looking for, it hasn’t happened in the past 18 months. So after that I’ve got no idea.
‘‘The information we’re getting when they arrived here last week looking for records ... they were certainly talking about other years as far back as 2005 perhaps.
‘‘We’ve just got no idea. We’ve complied with everything they’ve asked for and we’ll continue to do that.
‘‘We’ve got nothing to hide, not since I’ve been here anyway.’’