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Volume 6 No. 216
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Former NRL Cronulla Sharks CEO Urges Board To Resign In Light Of Doping Scandal

Former National Rugby League Cronulla Sharks CEO Peter Gow has urged the Sharks board, including Chair Damian Irvine, "to resign over the club's doping scandal, claiming board members had taken action against the coaching staff in order to 'save their own skin,'" according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. Gow was among the supporters who turned up to Sharks Stadium to show their support "after head coach Shane Flanagan was stood down and four other officials -- who had been in charge of the football department in 2011 when up to 14 players were alleged to have taken performance-enhancing drugs -- were sacked." Gow: "I think directors should stand down.They should stand down for the simple reason they haven't allowed due process. I believe they have taken people's livelihoods and put them in jeopardy and I think they've tried to do something to save their own skin" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/11).

CRY ME A RIVER: In Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported "suspended Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan is 'gutted' at being forced to miss one of his club's most famous wins." Flanagan and sacked Sharks officials Mark Noakes, Konrad Schultz and Dave Givney watched Saturday night's match against Gold Coast at Gymea Tradies Club. Flanagan was "in tears." The fourth official, former football Manager Darren Mooney, was taken to hospital Saturday "because of stress." Cronulla showed "extraordinary courage and commitment to overcome Gold Coast 12-10 before a loud Sunday night crowd of 17,541 at Sharks Stadium." Asked if he cried, Flanagan said: "Bloody oath. I can't believe this has happened. I have done nothing wrong, this is terrible. I wanted to be there. I am overwhelmed by the support." It was "an emotional night for the club, its players and fans." The Sharks entered the field to a standing ovation -- "a roar never heard before at Cronulla" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/10). In Melbourne, Brad Walter wrote, "One of two substances, alleged to have been illegal and taken by Cronulla players in 2011, was Thymosin Beta 4, which is used with horses." Flanagan and the sacked members of the coaching staff "have denied any knowledge of players being given vials labelled 'for equine use only.'" Noakes said, "Horse steroids or supplements that aren't for human use - I knew nothing about that. For someone to come out and say that, [or] allegedly say that, it just makes us look guilty of doing that which I have no recollection. I've never seen anything like that, that even resembles that" (THE AGE, 3/11).

CODE CHANGES? In Sydney, Andrew Webster wrote, the sobering reality is that "they have another month of turmoil and pain before ASADA finishes its investigation, according to NRL CEO Dave Smith." Smith said, "I met with ASADA last Friday and they told me that they are probably four weeks away from finishing with Cronulla. I really want it done as quickly as I can. Fundamentally, we need to get it done and dusted" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/10). In Brisbane, Chris Garry reported the NRL has written to the World Anti-Doping Agency, "arguing against proposed amendments to its code which would automatically disqualify teams for two seasons if more than one of their players failed an in-competition test." There is scope for WADA to recommend further sanctions "as the anti-doping rules in Australia comply with the world body's." Currently it takes "three or more players from a team to commit doping violations for WADA's code to recommend team sanctions." The code says: "The ruling body of a competition in which its members violate the code shall impose an appropriate sanction on the team e.g. loss of points, disqualification from a competition or event." That could mean a "worst-case scenario of the Sharks being kicked out of the NRL" if players were found guilty by ASADA (COURIER-MAIL, 3/11).

MORE TROUBLE: The AAP reported Cronulla is facing claims of "alleged under-the-table payments to players in breach of the salary cap." The club recently cut ties with E Group Security, "which was a sponsor and provided security to the club, and replaced it with another firm." It has been alleged the company "helped to top up money for star players outside the salary cap." Cronulla advised the NRL's salary cap auditor, "who is investigating the claims" (AAP, 3/10).