Sharks rule out legal action

Cronulla have ruled out legal action should current and former Sharks players be issued with show-cause notices by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, saying they are desperate not to prolong a 17-month saga.

While Essendon reacted on Friday to having 34 players asked to explain possible doping allegations, by challenging ASADA and the AFL in the Federal Court, the NRL's last-placed team revealed it would not go down that route.

The NRL is also anxiously awaiting the prospect of show-cause notices being delivered to players, despite confusion over comments made by ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt on Friday.

Asked in a television interview whether he was preparing notices for players involved in Cronulla's 2011 supplements programme, McDevitt said: "No, I'm not. And what I need to say here is that the NRL circumstances here are entirely different than what we are dealing with in the AFL and I really can't go any further than that at this stage."

A representative for ASADA later added: "Matters involving the NRL remain ongoing, so we are not at a point to elaborate on what action we will take in the NRL."

The Bombers lodged an application in the Federal Court on Friday alleging that ASADA’s joint investigation with the AFL was "unlawful" and a breach of the ASADA Act.

NRL representatives also sat in on interviews with more than 30 players by ASADA investigators. However, Cronulla chairman Damian Keogh said the Sharks would not follow Essendon into court.

"There has been no discussion at a board or management level relating to that at this stage," Keogh said. "As much as it's been frustrating and disappointing, and I think the punishment that we've suffered as a club and continue to suffer has been exorbitant, I would just like the whole thing to go away and come to a conclusion as soon as possible. So dragging out another court case on top of that is not going to achieve that.

"I think the convenient thing to do is to lump the two [Essendon and Cronulla] together and a lot of people have kind of done that. There's a lot of assumptions that what's good for the goose is going to be good for the gander. But we've maintained from day one that what happened at our club was markedly different from what happened at their club.

"To be honest, right now with everything we've been through in this saga, that's the last thing that we're looking at. We just need this whole saga to be finished so we can move on and get a fresh start. One way or another."

NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle admitted the code was bracing for show-cause notices to be issued to players but said the long-running inquiry would drag on for some more time – even without court action.

Once players' names are listed on ASADA's register of findings, they then have the option of challenging the charge through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – as former Canberra and Penrith winger Sandor Earl did this week.

Doyle dismissed concerns that the timing of show-cause notices to players could tarnish State of Origin.

"Timing is not something we can concern ourselves with, it is how we deal with it when we get the information that we will most likely receive," he said at the launch of the NRL's "Better Choices” program, which teaches teenagers about the pitfalls of alcohol, illicit drugs, the filming and distribution of private acts without consent, social media and cyber-bullying.

"It would appear from what they did yesterday with the AFL that everything is coming to a head, which is positive. [But] that is only a step towards the end, and this could go on for some time, depending upon information, process, appeals, tribunals etc."

Earl, who is facing a ban of up to four years for the use and trafficking of banned substances, responded to the latest developments by tweeting: "I officially regret assisting in the process with ASADA and the NRL. Should of just shut up after reading all the news today wow. Fairness?".

But Doyle said the NRL had no option other than to stand Earl down once he admitted injecting the banned peptide CJC-1295 to treat a shoulder injury, and questioned whether players should receive a discount of up to 75 per cent for providing "substantial assistance" to ASADA.

"There should not really be any benefit for anyone who takes performance-enhancing drugs, there is no place for it whatsoever in our sport and they should not be taking it from the start, so to me there should be no benefit," he said.

This story Sharks rule out legal action first appeared on WA Today.