The Daily Telegraph has revealed that 8 Cronulla Sharks players were in negotiations with ASADA to cut a deal that would see them banned for just 6 months if they admitted to being part of a performance enhancing drug regime that was allegedly put in place by the club itself.
Players are reported to have been negotiating financial safety nets in exchange for cooperating with ASADA. Negotiations are reported to have broken down when the Sharks players found out about preferential treatment towards Essendon AFL players.
The Telegraph has named 8 players…
Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Matthew Wright, Stewart Mills, Jayson Bukuya and Bryce Gibbs. Bryce Gibbs is the surprising name on that list as he was not at the Sharks in 2001, the time that the allegations of performance enhancing drug use program was in place.
The shocking revelations out of this report surround the alleged financial requests players had made to cover losses they would incur if they had be banned. These included contract extensions and payments to cover representative payments and third part sponsorship.
The problem I see coming out of this is that during this negotiation process the Sharks players would have needed to open up to ASADA to a certain extent. Because ASADA is effectively judge, jury and executioner, that doesn’t put the Sharks players in a very good position once negotiations fall apart.
When these players found out that Essenson AFL players were getting a better deal that had been negotiated by the AFL, they must have been pissed!
Had players take a 6 month ban, they would have been available to play in September. It is unlikely the Cronulla Sharks would have made the NRL finals without these players though and obviously it would have seen this season turn into a write off for all and sundry.
I feel really sorry for the players. Going by reports, they trusted the club and the club is alleged to have let them down. While all players may not be dealing with the same circumstances, there is little doubt that many players have found themselves court up in a bad situation through no fault of their own.
The reports by the Daily Telegraph have been sensational. They have been getting some fantastic information to publish over the last few days.
I’ll be interested to see if we get to seasons end and find that a number of players take their medicine (So to speak) and cop a six month ban. If that option is still on the table of course. At this stage ASADA may be looking to ban players for the longest period possible. Especially when there is a feeling that the Sharks players have not cooperated with ASADA.
Why would they though?
If Sharks players felt they were being treated differently to AFL players in a very similar, if not worse situation, why would they treat ASADA as anything other than an opponent?
That this is all still dragging on is ridiculous. It really shows that ASADA is not up to the job it is funded to do. With all of the information that is now public, you would think that ASADA should have been able to make a case by now.
The Sharks will now have to deal with this at possibly the most important point of the season. As the club prepares to the run in to the NRL Finals series, interviews with ASADA are about to start again.
Lets hope this is all sorted out soon. I am very concerned that players are alleged to have unknowingly been put in this situation by people they should have been able to completely trust to not provide them with any banned substances.
In my opinion, that is the biggest issue regarding this whole investigation. This can never be allowed to happen again.
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