Paul Gallen has outlined the uncertainty and confusion confronting Cronulla players ahead of a meeting with ASADA and the NRL today, admitting they will be labelled drug cheats if they accept reduced bans offered by the anti-doping agency.
Up to 17 past and present Sharks players who were at the club during their 2011 supplements program are scheduled to meet with ASADA officials today where they are expected to be offered suspensions of six months or less for their role in the episode.
However, accepting reduced penalties would require admissions that they took a prohibited substance and under ASADA's ''substantial assistance'' protocols that they provide co-operation to the drugs in sport watchdog.
Gallen, one of four players still at the club who will be involved in today's meeting, said there was apprehension about what laid ahead in the coming days.
''There is two ways to look at it. There's obviously a lot of rumour going around the past couple of days and the boys have spoken about it. Our mind and our mood changes every couple of minutes,'' Gallen told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast.
''At one stage (we were thinking) 'Thank God, this is going to be over hopefully, whatever happens is going to happen and we can just get on with life'. Because closure on this thing would just be unbelievable ... what we've gone through the past two seasons.
''But then you say 'let's stuff this, we've done nothing wrong'. It's a real hard situation to be in. I know we've spoken about over the past couple of years how much we've gone through but really what I've told you and what we've been through I can't explain it to you. The next couple of days are going to be interesting.''
The NSW State of Origin captain would stand to forfeit his test spot in the post-season Four Nations international tournament if he agreed to a deal and took a six-month ban, as well as losing potential income from several boxing bouts he has in the works.
The 33-year-old said, however, that there was far more at stake than a major hit to the bank balance.
''You can't get those games for Australia back,'' Gallen said.
''But it's your reputation; it's what I've built over the last 15 plus years in training full time and getting to where I've got to in the game. That's tarnished now already, but if we do this we're going to be labelled a drug cheat, no matter what. It's a tough situation to be in.''
He added: ''I'm 100 per cent positive I've never taken anything that's been on any banned list. I can say that, yeah.''
Gallen said he had discussed with his legal team whether he should be wary of making any major decisions before Essendon's case against ASADA in the Federal Court had reached a verdict. He said it had been frustrating to hear revelations out of the court of political interference in the now 18-month saga.
''I've asked them about that and we're not 100 per cent sure, because (my lawyer) believes that they're probably going to try and back us into a corner where we have to make a decision, basically ASAP before the Essendon thing is over,'' he said.
''But as I said we don't know that for sure yet.
''To be honest with you guys, I don't even know where the meeting is at yet. I told my lawyers that I could be anywhere within an hour, so I don't want to know. We'll just deal with it as it comes."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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