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Sharks could be just the beginning: Ings

Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) boss Richard Ings claims the doping scandal fallout at Cronulla could be a blueprint for what will happen at other NRL and AFL clubs.
Sharks could be just the beginning: Ings
by AAP

SYDNEY, March 9 AAP - Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) boss Richard Ings claims the doping scandal fallout at Cronulla could be a blueprint for what will happen at other NRL and AFL clubs.

The most dramatic week in the Sharks' chequered existence came to a stunning crescendo on Friday night when four key staff members were sacked and coach Shane Flanagan stood down, just two days out from their opening game of the season.

The move was made as a result of "serious management failures" during the three-month period in 2011 when sports scientist Stephen Dank worked at the club.

The sackings came just days after as many as 14 players were reportedly offered six-month bans for - unknowingly or not - allegedly taking banned substances.

With five other NRL clubs along with AFL club Essendon also named in the Australian Crime Commission report into the widespread use of drugs in sport, Ings told the Nine Network on Saturday that the happenings at Cronulla could be just the beginning.

"Maybe not over the next week or two but over the next month or two, you're going to see the Cronulla situation as a blueprint for what is likely to happen with several other clubs in the AFL or the NRL," Ings said.

"You'll see players who will either admit to being involved in doping or be prosecuted for doping offences.

"This is not trivial. It is a very serious doping matter being investigated and there will be sanctions for those involved."

The Cronulla squad fronted the club's board on Friday night demanding Flanagan be reinstated.

There was a suggestion they could boycott Sunday's match against Gold Coast should their demand not be heard, but the side named on Tuesday - minus the omitted Jayson Bukuya and Chad Townsend - trained on Saturday morning under interim head coach Peter Sharp.

Speaking on Triple M's Dead Set Legends program on Saturday, Flanagan said he was still dealing with the shock of his removal.

"I'm still in a bit of a daze to tell you the truth," he said.

"I got word of what was going on yesterday (players confronting board) and I really appreciate the players support.

"But I support the players, I just hope they go out tomorrow and play really well, hopefully win.

"I'm not really sure what came out of yesterday meeting but I know they're all behind me and I appreciate that."

Flanagan also said he hadn't given up hope of being back in the Sharks' coaching box soon.

"I can't comment on the board, they've made a decision," he said.

"Obviously I'm not happy with it but I'm still employed by the club and I'm still hoping that I coach this team

"I've got to be careful there and respect their decision."


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