WADA President John Fahey Says NRL Needs To Follow AFL's Lead In Doping Investigation
World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey has launched a stinging attack against the National Rugby League for its handling of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation, claiming the Australian Football League "has shown far greater leadership on the issue," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. Fahey said, "I believe at the moment as a club and as an administration they've (the AFL) said, 'We took our eye off the ball, we didn't do it right. We have to improve.' ... What a breath of fresh air that is. From what I am seeing as a casual observer, that is not happening in Sydney with rugby league" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/8). In Sydney, Brad Walter wrote the NRL "has no plans to have a league official sit in on interviews between ASADA investigators and players," as the AFL will do when interviews with its players begin this week. Lawyers representing ASADA and NRL club Cronulla players are still negotiating on the level of cooperation players are required to provide "when interviews resume after questioning of Sharks back-rower Wade Graham was cut short last week." Fahey's comment supports the off-the-record view of another drugs enforcement agency official, who said that "the investigation into doping by NRL players could drag on for years, while the AFL cases were expected to be concluded within months." NRL CEO David Smith has asked for a transcript of Graham's interview "to determine whether the questioning from ASADA went beyond the previous agreement for players not to incriminate themselves." However, the AFL "will have either one or both of its investigators, Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad, in attendance" when ASADA begins interviewing senior Essendon players, led by Jobe Watson (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/8).
GROWING SUPPORT: Also in Sydney, Phil Rothfield wrote support "is growing in powerful NRL circles for an amnesty on drug users to break open the investigation stalemate." Under the plan, players at all 16 clubs "would be given the opportunity to turn themselves in and provide evidence to ASADA investigators." In return, they would escape suspensions or any punishment, "but face life bans if they ever test positive to a performance-enhancing substance" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 5/8).