The Daily Telegraph is reporting that ASADA has focused it’s investigation into the use of performance enhancing substances on four Cronulla Sharks players from the 2011 team, and that those four players will be issued with show cause notices by the end of the month.
This is a significant escalation in the ASADA investigation. Any players named will basically be forced to give reasons as to why they should not be banned from the game under the ASADA code.
It must be noted that ignorance in these cases is not a defence. WADA code, which ASADA enforces in Australia, has seen many an athlete banned from sport after they have pleaded ignorance to being administered performance enhancing substances, even when they have been given them without knowledge of their illegality.
That only four players are set to be issued show cause notices is significant. It suggests that there is a clear difference between these players and the rest of the squad that were allegedly administered illegal substances in 2011. The Daily Telegraph report suggest that the difference may come down to possible treatments the four players received privately from third parties being investigated by ASADA.
This sadly is just the beginning of what is going to be a very difficult time for the Cronulla Sharks.
With coach Shane Flanagan currently serving a 12 months ban from the game, it’s hard to see how the Sharks will not end up with a number of players also banned as well. The evidence gathered by ASADA was obviously strong enough to ban the clubs coach and their former trainer. It’s not looking good for players who have been caught up in this whole mess.
I’ve said before that any bans the club has to deal with will not be the toughest test for the club, it will be the proceeding legal action that follows the bans that will be the real hammer blow.
Any player that has their career effected by alleged misconduct by the club and a breakdown in its duty of care towards players will no doubt take legal action. We have already seen that a few former players are prepared to seek damages for alleged health issues they faced. If we start seeing players losing money because of bans you can be sure others will join the fight.
This is a very dark time coming up for the Sharks. I feel very sorry for their supporters who have had to deal with this for way too long.
It isn’t enjoyable to write about this sort of subject, but it is important that the game faces up to the difficult questions the ASADA investigation has posed. Players should be able to trust staff with not only their careers, but their health as well.
Clubs employ people to look after players, to give them the best advice and treatment money can buy. What should never be lost is that the players health and well being must always come first.
It is going to be really tough to see how this all effects the Cronulla Sharks club this year. Hopefully the club can survive the fallout.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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