Current and former Cronulla Sutherland players have reluctantly decided to a put an end to their involvement in the ASADA case. They have done so after being placed in an untenable and unfair position by ASADA this week.
Firstly, all the players maintain that they have done nothing wrong and have not broken any anti-doping rules.
Secondly, according to the Full Federal Court the show cause notices issued by ASADA are no more than mere assertions of a possibility of a violation. There is simply not enough evidence upon which ASADA could prove its case at a final hearing before the NRL or the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The NRL has stated privately that ASADA does not have enough evidence to win a case against the players.
Thirdly, It must also must be considered in the context of the case brought about by Essendon against ASADA. That case has challenged the lawfulness of the AFL investigators sitting in on ASADA interviews. If the Federal Court finds in favour of this aspect of the Essendon case the principle will apply to the situation where the NRL sat in on the ASADA interviews resulting also in the case brought against the players being invalid and unlawful.
The ‘offer’ put on the table by ASADA this week must be considered in that context.
To put it at its lowest ASADA has acted unfairly in proceeding to try and extract a result before that case is determined.
The players have been put in an untenable position – to agree within 72 hours to accept the ‘offer’ or continue on with a long and lengthy legal battle which neither are equipped to afford.
Furthermore, they fear that if they stood their ground and fought that the NRL may stand them down from playing for the duration of their legal battle.
It is on this basis that the players have decided to put an end to this process now. As a result they will not be playing until 22 November 2104.
Actions like this by ASADA only serve to further undermine the public’s faith in the anti-doping system.
We can only hope that the Federal Government properly reviews the operations of ASADA to restore faith in the anti-doping system and to create some semblance of fairness for athletes.