NRL teams encourage players to dob in dopers

Last updated 07:07 13/02/2013
Peter Jourdain
Fairfax Australia
PETER JOURDAIN: "I'll be encouraging anyone who knows anything to come forward at our club".

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The NRL clubs under investigation by the Australian Crime Commission will encourage players of all grades, past and present, to dob in a doper and salvage the reputation of their organisations.

At a meeting with ASADA officials in a secret location in Sydney on Tuesday, the chief executives of the six clubs under investigation were reminded that any player who provided substantial assistance would be granted amnesty.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has doubled the length of bans from two to four years, a decision supported by ASADA.

But a player who has been involved in unlawful activity and aids investigations with information could be allowed to return to the sport after six months.

North Queensland chief executive Peter Jourdain, who flew down from Townsville on Tuesday morning to attend the meeting, will sit down with Cowboys players on Wednesday morning to explain the ASADA investigations and the process that will now follow.

He will also put pressure on his players to come clean and admit to any wrongdoing in the drug scandal that has rocked Australian sport.

''I'll talk to [the players] tomorrow and explain exactly what was explained to us today and the ramifications of that,'' Jourdain said. ''I'll be encouraging anyone who knows anything to come forward.''

Manly chief executive David Perry, who held an urgent meeting with his players and coaching staff on Tuesday morning before the meeting, said he would reiterate ASADA's sentiment to the players on Wednesday.

''[Amnesty] is something we need to communicate internally and then get advice from ASADA on how to communicate through their legal team,'' Perry said as he left the briefing.

NRL chief executive David Smith fronted the media at Rugby League Central on Tuesday morning for the first time since last Thursday's announcement.

Smith, who has established a new integrity unit under the watch of legal counsel Tony Whitlam QC, also encouraged players to protect the game by confessing or providing information via the phone hotline the NRL has set up.

''It's better to step forward if you have information ... we will put a second hot-line in place for matters that may or may not be related to criminal activity,'' he said. Whatever comes out of the allegations, rugby league will be in a better place.''

It is unclear how far back the investigations go back, but the Sea Eagles have been told they are being audited on the two years since 2011, the year sports scientist Stephen Dank left Manly to join Cronulla.

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''It's only two years at this stage,'' Perry said. ''I guess out of those inquiries it may go back even further. But I think the fact that Manly was involved with specific people a fair way back might assist our case.''

For the Cowboys, the investigations relate to incidents before the 2011 season.

Jourdain was unsure of the exact period the ACC investigated but acknowledged they were tracking back quite a few years.

''Certainly 2010 was mentioned but I think it then goes back - if they are tracking people - to when they became involved in the game,'' he said. ''It goes back some time.''

Smith was tight-lipped on the investigation in his press conference on Tuesday morning. After a tumultuous eight days in charge of the game, there was little light he could shed, repeatedly emphasising he was bound by law not to reveal details of the investigation.

''The only thing I've been allowed to do is tell clubs involved that they've been referred to,'' he said. ''What I can say ... is that the vast majority of our players and team officials do the right thing.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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