NRL Cronulla Sharks Players Face Six-Month Suspension In Wake Of Drug Scandal
National Rugby League Cronulla Sharks players have been offered automatic one-year contract extensions "as part of an incentive package to voluntarily stand down for six months," according to Massoud & Ritchie of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Sources last night confirmed 47 past and present players across the code "are in the sights of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority." Cronulla's offer to 14 players, made on Tuesday, includes: an automatic "one-year extension on their current contracts to compensate sitting out this season." The value of the extension "would also reflect future increases in the salary cap;" automatic "remuneration of any representative payments or bonuses earned in 2012," based on the assumption those players would achieve the same honors this year; full pay while suspended; and a "waiving of all rights to sue the club and its board" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/8).
PLAYERS 'STUNNED': In Sydney, Andrew Webster wrote "Stunned Sharks players are, for now, rejecting the ultimatum from former ASADA legal counsel Richard Redman to accept a six-month suspension with full pay." Sources close to several players said that "they are angry as they feel that they are being 'blackmailed' into accepting a suspension when they have not been charged or interviewed by ASADA investigators" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/8). Also in Sydney, Paul Kent wrote, "Blame it on Trent Elkin, blame it on ignorance, blame it on the boogie, if you like, but when the Cronulla players sit down with ASADA and begin to offer their case, it will all mean squat." Under the formidable laws of the World Anti-Doping Agency, "the players are solely responsible for what they put in their body. It is not up for contest." It is now "considered a given that at least some Sharks have problems," with Paul Gallen, Ben Pomeroy and John Morris confronting Elkin after their meeting with their legal advisor, former ASADA prosecutor Richard Redman. And they "won't be able to plead ignorance" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/8).
NAVIGATING THE CRISIS: In Melbourne, Adrien Proszenko wrote, "Cronulla players and officials believe former head trainer Trent Elkin" has informed ASADA about the supplements program that was in place during his time at the NRL club. The development comes as the Sharks engaged the services of "spin doctor to the stars," renowned media consultant Sue Cato, to help them navigate through the crisis. (THE AGE, 3/8). NEWS LIMITED NETWORK's Scott Gullan wrote, Australian Football League Collingwood rugby player Dane Swan "has revealed he doesn't have a strike under the AFL's illicit drugs policy." The Brownlow medallist also denied he had a drug problem and "was perplexed why he was regularly the focus of rumour and innuendo regarding his social life" (NEWS LIMITED NETWORK, 3/7).