Australian rugby league players accept one-year bans

Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:53am EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - More than a dozen players accused of using banned supplements at the Cronulla Sharks rugby league club in 2011 have accepted one-year bans for their role in the scandal, Australian media reported on Friday.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) said it would not comment on the case because it was still ongoing but several players confirmed they had accepted the plea-deals.

The National Rugby League (NRL) also released a brief statement confirming it was "aware that all current NRL players involved in the ASADA investigation have responded to the show cause notices issued by the Authority."

The players, who include Australia vice captain Paul Gallen, had the usual two-year ban for a first doping offence halved for their cooperation with the investigation.

The proximity of the end of the NRL regular season and the backdating of the bans to November 2013 mean most of the players will miss only three games.

The players were found to have used substances CJC-1295 and GHRP-6, peptide hormones which promote growth and are banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. The suspensions will start immediately ASADA have given the players assurances WADA will not appeal the leniency of the punishments.

WADA have come under fire this year for not appealing a one-year ban handed to American former world champion sprinter Tyson Gay after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid.

Gay's ban, halved because of his "substantial cooperation" with doping authorities, was back-dated and he was competing within a few weeks of the announcement of the punishment.

According to local media reports, three former Sharks players turned down the plea-deal. One has since retired while two others, Paul Aiton and Ben Pomeroy, are now playing in England's Super League.   Continued...