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Sharks players to mull ASADA deal offer

Five Cronulla players issued with show-cause notices by ASADA have until Friday to decide whether to accept ban proposals from the anti-doping authority.
Sharks players to mull ASADA deal offer
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Aug 20 AAP - Five Cronulla players issued with show-cause notices by ASADA have until Friday to decide whether to accept ban proposals from the anti-doping authority.

Wade Graham, Paul Gallen, Anthony Tupou, Nathan Gardner and the soon-to-retire John Morris have all reportedly been offered the chance to plead guilty and take reduced suspensions backdated to November 1.

This would be mean the players would only miss the remaining games from this season and be free to start next season.

But should they choose to clear their names, the players could potentially face up to a two-year suspension if found guilty.

It's believed ASADA is willing to compromise because of the inordinate delay in the long-running investigation, as well as the fact players might have been misled into using prohibited substances CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 in a five-week period during the 2011 season.

A Sharks official confirmed to AAP the players had been offered deals and they must decide whether to accept guilt or prepare for a show-cause hearing with ASADA which they would have 10 days to prepare for and could potentially face a two-year ban.

Twelve others who played for the club during that season will also be issued with show-causes but there's been no confirmation if similar deals are on the table.

Lawyer Richard Redman met his clients Graham, Tupou, Morris and Gardner on Wednesday but declined to comment.

Gallen, who drove the players home from the meeting, earlier on Wednesday expressed concern about admitting any wrongdoing.

"It's (our reputation) tarnished now already, but no matter what, if we do this, we're going to be labelled a drug cheat," he told Sky Sports Radio.

"Our mind and our mood changes every 10 minutes. At one stage, we're (thinking) 'thank God, this is going to be over hopefully. Whatever happens is going to happen and we can just get on with life'.

"Because closure on this thing would just be unbelievable (after) what we've gone through the past two seasons.

"But then you say 'let's stuff this - we've done nothing wrong'.

"It's a real hard situation to be in."

The Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) said ASADA had put the players in an unfair position.

"This investigation commenced 18 months ago and the NRL has already determined there was a serious deficiency in governance at the club and that it failed to provide players with a safe workplace," a statement said.

"The players are now being compelled to explain why they should not be sanctioned and so are effectively being held to account for a failure by their employer to observe their duty of care obligations.

"The RLPA maintains this situation is inequitable and unreasonable."

ASADA confirmed the notices were issued based on evidence collected during the 16-month probe that began after the infamous 'darkest day in Australian sport' media conference in February 2013.

It said in a statement that information would be put to the independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel for consideration after any show-cause hearing.

"In the event the panel enters a player onto the Register of Findings, the player will be offered an opportunity to have their matter heard before the NRL's Anti-Doping Tribunal.

"Should a matter proceed to the NRL's Anti-Doping Tribunal, it will be responsible for assessing the evidence and player submissions before delivering a judgment.

"In the event a player waives their right to a hearing, the NRL will decide the appropriate sanction in accordance with its anti-doping policy."




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