Cronulla have no assurances about avoiding retrospective disqualification this year, according to a letter from National Rugby League boss Dave Smith.
Insiders of Cronulla Sharks were confident that the team would not be stripped of the premiership should the club win three more finals matches to claim its maiden title but Smith's letter that offered no guarantees have made them thinking again. The NRL boss was replying to a letter from former Sharks director Craig Douglas wherein Douglas sought assurances that his team would not be the subject to future penalties or sanctions regardless of whether 10 players implicated in the ASADA investigations were stood down. Cronulla's former director said it was the preference of the club for players to stand down and accepted that the club would be in a difficult position if they took the field.
Douglas's letter said the club earnestly believes there is no current breaches of the anti-doping rules and therefore requests that should any of the affected players take the field and subsequently enter a plea deal or are charged and convicted by ASADA, the club’s season 2013 will not be the subject of future penalties or sanctions. In reply, Smith said the NRL is not in a position to provide the assurances about the 2013 season that you are seeking and the NRL at this stage does not have sufficient information, particularly in relation to any recent player conduct that may constitute breaches of the anti-doping policy, to consider this request properly.
The club's woes added when Luke Edmonds, the sponsorship manager at Cronulla, was questioned by officials of the club over his purchase of peptides online from Sharks offices. It was alleged that Edmonds asked for the labels of controversial supplements to be removed to expedite their passage through customs while asking them to be delivered to Sharks headquarters in 2011. It is rumored that Sharks officials questioned Edmond and asked him specifically why the supplements were delivered to the club and whether they were purchased for Cronulla players. A trainer at Rayzor Fitness and co-owner of Rayzor Nutrition, Edmonds said he purchased them for personal use.
Recently, the Australian Anti-Doping Agency completed its interviews with Sharks players after skipper Paul Gallen emerged from lengthy interrogation inside a North Sydney office tower. The skipper was the last of 11 Sharks players to face ASADA officials and is the worst-hit of all as ASADA has obtained text messages between him and sports scientist Stephen Dank. The other Sharks players interviewed were: John Morris, Anthony Tupou, Stewart Mills, Nathan Gardner, Jayson Bukuya, Nathan Stapleton, Matt Wright, Wade Graham, and Ben Ross. Also, Cronulla chief executive Steve Noyce has confirmed the Sharks had no record of any payments to Dank and said we just want to get to the bottom of the nature of the account and what it's been used for. It could be simple, it could be innocent, it could be completely normal, and if it's not we'll get to the bottom of that as well.