Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen is among ten NRL players who have accepted doping bans from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). The players accepted 12 month back-dated bans which will expire on November 21. An unsuccessful challenge to doping charges would have resulted in a ban of two years.
The players agreed to the deal after receiving assurances from the World Anti-Doping Agency that it would not appeal against the terms. This suspension however means that Gallen is ruled out of the upcoming Four Nations tournament for Australia, while Jeremey Smith will be unable to represent New Zealand. Wright will miss the finals with the Cowboys and the Four Nations tournament for Samoa.
Gallen's Sharks teammates Wade Graham, John Morris, Nathan Gardner, and Anthony Tupou will miss the remainder of the season. North Queensland’s Matthew Wright and Newcastle pair Jeremey Smith and Kade Snowden will also incur bans. Matthew Wright will be suspended for the finals campaign of the club if they finish in the top eight. Super League players Paul Aiton and Ben Pomeroy have rejected the doping charges.
Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett confirmed that Knights players Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden have accepted three-month ASADA bans and were withdrawn. Bennett remarked they accepted their ASADA breach notices so Jeremy and Kade Snowden won't be playing. The Newcastle coach added they under the terms of reference have deemed to have served a period of time, and have been given a three month suspension and will be available sometime in November and they have to accept the situation, the reality of it all.
He also remarked they are at our club, they are playing for the club, we are the face of it they have to take their medicine and so do we and added at least it would not be hanging over the heads. Bennett also remarked it has had a huge impact right across the game, the NRL to their credit taken action against Cronulla, they have suspended the coach, fined the club and suspended a trainer and concluded by saying that hopefully this is the last part of it now ASADA taking action against players and now we can all move on.
NRL boss David Smith said he hoped that the investigation lasting for 18 months was finally reaching a conclusion. Smith said he is completely up to date as to who has decided to do what, but he does know that process is going on in the background for all the players that were issued with show cause notices. Smith told Channel Nine if we can bring the thing to an end, if we can get the right response whereby the punishment fits the crime, whereby anybody that is involved with the game that has had a duty of care is not involved in our game anymore, and we can finally put this behind us, then the right things have taken place in the right way and he thinks we have managed the process pretty well so far. The NRL boss added then of course we will all be happy and the fans will be happy and the game can move on and we have some clear blue air next season.