Cronulla coach stood down amid NRL doping claims
SYDNEY (AP) – The Cronulla Sharks say their coach has been stood down and other club officials have had their contracts terminated amid an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into illegal supplement use at the National Rugby League team.
With their season opener set for Sunday against the Gold Coast Titans, coach Shane Flanagan was ousted on Friday while the team’s football manager, head trainer, physiotherapist and club doctor also departed.
The players say they were not aware supplements given to them by team support staff contained peptides banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Up to 14 players have reportedly been offered full pay during a six-month doping ban if they waive their right to sue the club over the drug scandal, although a team official said Friday none will be asked to stop playing until doping allegations are proven against them.
“I’m shattered,” said Flanagan, who was questioned by ASADA officials on Friday. “None of us had any knowledge of what was happening.”
Cronulla players were reportedly given Thymosin Beta 4 and CJC-1295 peptides during the 2011 season.
The products were not on WADA’s banned list at the time, but the section in the WADA code dealing with peptide use includes a catch-all phrase that makes it clear substances with a “similar chemical structure or similar biological effect” to those listed are prohibited.
Some Cronulla players were reported to have visited the team trainer at his home on Thursday, a situation which ASADA’s former chief executive Richard Ings called “outrageous.”