THE drama surrounding controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank has expanded and engulfed the NRL’s Cronulla Sharks with news emerging that up to 14 of the club’s players face immediate suspension after being implicated in ASADA’s anti-doping investigations.
Indeed it had been reported that the 14 players have been told to accept a six-month suspension or risk further sanctions of or up to a two-year ban over their alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
News.com.au has reported that the players have been given a 48-hour deadline to “make up their minds” about accepting the penalties.
Unsurprisingly this news has overshadowed tonight’s NRL season opener.
Dank is the controversial scientist at the centre of the illegal peptides controversy that has exploded in both the NRL and AFL and that has specifically implicated the Essendon Football Club.
While Essendon has remained tight-lipped about the Sharks (“What happens at other clubs and in other codes has no bearing on us,” said an Essendon spokesman) this news, if proven to be accurate, does not augur well for the Bombers.
Dank was an employee of the Cronulla Sharks in 2011 and moved from that club to Essendon in 2012. If ASADA finds the Sharks guilty of violating anti-doping provisions because of the practices employed by Danks in 2011, it would be difficult to envisage an outcome where the Bombers would be face the same consequences for the same practices just one year later.
Dank has denied any wrongdoing at all times but the results could be devastating to all football fans, not just those of the Essendon Football Club, if the Cronulla player ban comes to pass.
The Cronulla Sharks meanwhile have released a statement to it’s website that has done nothing allay the fears of its fans:
Sharks fans and all rugby league supporters can be assured the club has been very proactive in fully cooperating with ASADA and taking other measures that prioritise the integrity of our club and the welfare of our playing group.
While there are strict boundaries around what we can say while the ASADA investigation is ongoing, fans should be assured that as soon as there is an opportunity to provide further information we will do so.
Football Nation will be posting more on this story as news develops.