|Australia’s Sharks dump coach, manager, amid rising dope stink
Australia’s rugby league team Cronulla Sharks say the coach has been stood down and contracts of other club officials terminated amid an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into illegal supplement use.
Their season opener is on Sunday against the Gold Coast Titans. Coach Shane Flanagan was ousted today while the team's football manager, head trainer, physiotherapist and club doctor also departed, AP reports.
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 none will be asked to stop playing until doping allegations are proven against them.
“I'm shattered,’’ said Flanagan, who was questioned by ASADA today. “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 yesterday, a situation which ASADA's former chief executive Richard Ings called “outrageous.’’
“That is borderline intimidation of the witness,'' Ings told local media. “Those players need to stand down and let the process take its course and not interfere with anybody who is seeking to bring forward information.
“That was completely out of line what those players did. They went and paid a visit to his home and had a bit of a chat with him. The club should hold those players to account.’’