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NRL's ASADA scandal threatens to drag on

The ASADA scandal is threatening to cast a pall over another rugby league season with the Cronulla Sharks, Shane Flanagan and Trent Elkin submitting appeals against NRL sanctions on Wednesday.
NRL's ASADA scandal threatens to drag on
by AAP

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, Jan 29 AAP - The ASADA scandal is threatening to cast a pall over another rugby league season with the Cronulla Sharks, Shane Flanagan and Trent Elkin submitting appeals against NRL sanctions on Wednesday.

Cronulla, suspended Sharks coach Flanagan, and banned trainer Elkin, now with Parramatta, all submitted their responses to the breach notices issued last month by the NRL.

All parties had previously indicated an intention to challenge the sanctions handed down on December 17 after the NRL completed its governance review of issues at the Sharks during 2010 and 2011.

Cronulla were hit with a $1 million fine, Flanagan with a one-year ban and Elkin with a two-year ban.

The NRL review handed down on December 17 said the "findings have identified serious failures on the part of the club and certain individuals who had a responsibility to safeguard the health and welfare of its players".

In their response, the Sharks declared they would "vigorously" defend the charges.

Earlier this month, Sharks skipper Paul Gallen told AAP that Flanagan intended to contest his ban.

Reports Flanagan has hired a high powered legal team suggest he is digging in for a long fight.

In announcing it had received the submissions on Wednesday, the NRL gave no timeframe for when it would make a final decision.

"NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, has today received submissions from the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Club, Mr Shane Flanagan and Mr Trent Elkin regarding the breach notices issued on December 17 last year," read the release issued on Wednesday afternoon.

"Now that those submissions have been received, Mr Smith will take as much time as is needed to give full and proper consideration to the responses made by the Sharks club, Mr Flanagan and Mr Elkin before a final determination is made."

Once that decision is handed down - if it is not to the liking of the Sharks, Flanagan or Elkin - the matter could be dragged through the courts, and dragged on for much of 2014.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into the issue remains ongoing almost a year since Australian sport's so-called "darkest day" on February 7 last year.

Canberra winger Sandor Earl, who was issued with a breach notice in August following his admission to the use and trafficking of a peptide, is the only player charged.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, Earl was entitled to an expedited process after his admission but the length of his ban is still yet to be confirmed.


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