National Rugby League Side Cronulla Sharks To Take Compromise Deal Over ASADA Saga
The "vast majority" of players at the center of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into the National Rugby League are "expected to accept a compromise proposal from the anti-doping organisation that would help end the 16-month saga," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Many of the 17 past and present Cronulla players who have received show cause notices spent Thursday night "locked in meetings with their legal teams as they studied their options." The "prevailing desire was to bring an end to the saga." A source close to the players said that "they were leaning towards accepting an ASADA compromise that would result in their receiving one-year suspensions backdated to November last year." The players "maintain their innocence but are being driven by a desire to end what has become a torturous period in their careers." They "would miss the last three games of this season and the Four Nations tournament." The source said, “At this stage they're leaning more towards (taking the ASADA proposal) than not on the basis that they have had enough of it. The alternative is highly unknown and is, potentially, significantly worse. It's almost like a high-stakes poker game" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/22).
PHARMARCIST NAMED: In Melbourne, Proszenko & Barrett wrote ASADA "issued some of its show-cause notices based on the belief peptides were on-sold to Cronulla players via a Kogarah compounding pharmacist." Magdy Sedrak, of the Belgrave Compounding Pharmacy in Kogarah, sports scientist Stephen Dank and former associate Darren Hibbert "have been mentioned in at least some of the notices issued to players on Wednesday." Hibbert "strenuously denied selling players peptides or ever meeting Sedrak" (THE AGE, 8/21). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported World Anti-Doping Authority officials "refused to rule out an appeal against the backdated suspensions offered to members of Cronulla's 2011 squad that would allow the players to miss just three matches for pleading guilty to unknowingly taking banned substances." The players "are concerned that WADA may appeal and after making an admission they could face a lengthier ban." WADA CEO David Howman said that "he was unable to give any guarantees until the process had run its course and the cases had been reviewed" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/21). Also in Sydney, Brent Read wrote Howman also "praised" Ben McDevitt "for his handling of the investigation" since he took over from former ASADA CEO Aurora Andruska in July. Howman also revealed that the ASADA inquiry into the NRL and Australian Football League "was set to take centre stage next month as part of a conference to discuss anti-doping investigations." Howman said, "I think the experience we have learnt from what happened in Australia will be useful for us. I am sure it will be useful in the long run for Australia. I think the one thing we all know is once you embark on these sorts of inquiries, the longer they take the more frustrating it is for those involved in it" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/22).
INVESTIGATION 'FLAWED': In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko wrote former Cronulla coach Peter Sharp has spoken for the first time since leaving the Sharks, describing ASADA's investigation as "flawed" and a "terrible" blow to the embattled club. Sharp said, "The whole process has been flawed. From day one. It's been terrible on everyone. It's been [unfair] on the whole club" (SMH, 8/21).