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Six NRL clubs confirm being mentioned in ACC report

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Chris Barrett, Michael Chammas

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NRL chief: I understand frustration

Chief executive David Smith tells the media why he can't say more about clubs being investigated over alleged doping.

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Six clubs - Manly, Cronulla, Newcastle, Canberra, North Queensland and Penrith - have confirmed they were mentioned in the Australian Crime Commission report after being notified by the NRL last night.

THE NRL informed the clubs listed in the ACC's report into doping, match-fixing and organised crime in sport, with chief executive David Smith making a series of calls on Monday night to say they are under investigation or to give them the all clear.

Penrith, one of several clubs who had auditors sent to their premises after the report was released, confirmed they were one of the clubs in the spotlight, while late on Monday night Canberra and North Queensland also confirmed they were among those named. Newcastle, Cronulla and Manly on Tuesday morning became the other three clubs to confirm they had been named in the report.

Series of calls ... David Smith.

Series of calls ... David Smith. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

‘‘Our club will cooperate with any official enquiry,’’ Knights CEO Matt Gidley said. ‘‘We maintain full confidence under the management of Wayne Bennett.’’

Canberra CEO Don Furner also confirmed on Tuesday they had been mentioned in the ACC report.

“We can confirm we were contacted by the NRL late last night in relation to the ACC report, however we have no further details at this stage,” Furner said. “As previously stated, we fully support any investigations by the NRL or the ACC in relations to these matters.”

“Our club will continue to work with the NRL and ACC until these matters are resolved and will update our members, sponsors and supporters when we can.”

Cronulla and Manly, who have been linked with former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank, also confirmed on Tuesday they were in the report.

"As previously stated the Sharks will continue to provide full support to ASADA and the NRL in their ongoing investigations," the club said in a statement.

"At this point in time the Sharks will not be making any further comment but will endeavour to keep sponsors, members and fans informed of any developments where possible."

Sea  Eagles general manager David Perry said the club would continue to co-operate with the ACC, ASADA and the NRL over the report.

“The Sea Eagles condemn unreservedly any use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by players,” Perry said.

“We are unaware of any use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by any member of the Sea Eagles squad.”

Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain said: "We have been mentioned in the report but we have no information on the context.

"Like all NRL clubs mentioned in this report, we will co-operate fully with the NRL and ASADA.

"Until we receive a briefing on Tuesday afternoon, we will not be making any further public comment. We strongly support this investigation."

Clubs who said they had not received any contact included South Sydney, Canterbury, St George Illawarra, Parramatta, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Wests Tigers and Melbourne.

The Warriors did not return calls from Fairfax Media.

Elsewhere, Curtis Johnston, who plays for the Rabbitohs' NSW Cup feeder club North Sydney and has yet to play in the NRL, has been stood down amid claims he is featured in the investigation.

Smith phoned club chiefs whose teams were named in the report following an ARL Commission meeting in Brisbane on Monday. Coincidentally, he rang them while an interview with Stephen Dank, who has been cast as a central figure in the affair, was being aired by the ABC. It is understood Smith told them they had been mentioned in the probe but said for legal reasons he could not be more specific or give more details. He told them he would be back in touch to brief them.

''The information that has been passed on to the clubs is simply that they have been referred to within the report,'' Smith said. ''The NRL is working with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority who will establish a more detailed briefing with the clubs regarding its investigation.

''We have an opportunity in this instance to make a clear statement about our values by working with the authorities to take every appropriate action. It is equally important that everyone is focused on maintaining a proper process and that represents an important responsibility in terms of what is both said and done.''

It has been reported that six clubs were named in the report but the NRL said they did not have the authority to identify them.

''Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, we are already committed to establishing the strongest integrity and compliance unit of any code and we are determined to see rugby league stronger for having addressed these issues,'' Smith said.

The Nine Network on Monday claimed Johnston was at the centre of an investigation following a series of damning text messages. It was believed Johnston claimed the messages were a joke. While refusing to name the player or club, NSW Rugby League boss Geoff Carr said a player had been stood down following an allegation of illicit drug use.

with AAP

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