ASADA: Cowboys are not cleared

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 10:03 15/02/2013

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Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority officials have rejected claims by Cowboys chief executive Peter Jourdain that the club or any North Queensland player involved in the investigation into performance-enhancing drugs had been cleared.

The comments by ASADA also contradict claims by Canberra players on Thursday that they had been told by the agency they had ''absolutely no case to answer''.

Jourdain said he believed the Cowboys' involvement with the investigation had now finished after providing ASADA with information it had requested about the relationship between one of the club's players and sport science guru Stephen Dank.

It is understood the player had previously played at a club where Dank worked and the pair had a phone conversation while the sacked Essendon physiologist was under surveillance from Australian Crime Commission investigators.

There is no suggestion the player or Dank have done anything wrong, and Jourdain claimed North Queensland were now no longer under investigation. However, ASADA representatives said nothing had changed and the investigation was continuing into the six NRL clubs named in the ACC report, which Fairfax Media has been told also names 34 players.

''The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority confirms it has held several meetings with NRL clubs and players this week to explain the steps it will take as its investigation progresses,'' an ASADA official said.

''At no point has ASADA indicated to clubs or players that individuals are cleared of any wrongdoing, or that teams have no case to answer. ASADA welcomes the ongoing commitment expressed by the sports and clubs to fully co-operate with its investigation.''

It is understood the club was also asked whether their coaching staff had any involvement with Dank as he is believed to have told an ACC hearing late last year he was due to meet with the Cowboys to discuss North Queensland's sports science programme.

The six NRL clubs believe they are under investigation because of links with Dank, who worked for Manly from 2006 to 2010 and was a consultant at Cronulla in 2011.

He also met twice in 2011 with former Penrith coach Matthew Elliott, who has said he had known Dank since his playing days at St George in 1992. It is understood that Dank was a masseuse at the Dragons.

Newcastle and Canberra are understood to have been mentioned in the ACC report because of a relationship between Dank and players or coaching staff he had previously worked with.

An angry Jourdain said on Thursday the Cowboys were considering legal action as they felt it was wrong that the club was named over an issue he believed was of little of concern to ASADA.

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''We feel like we're entitled to be a little bit aggrieved by the process,'' Jourdain said. ''I'm not sure why it needed to be so public. I think we could have provided the information they wanted within about two hours on Monday afternoon.

''From a club's perspective, we're going to have to look at our legal options and where we go from here but that may take some time. It is important to point out that at no time were any allegations made against the Cowboys.

''We were asked to co-operate with ASADA's investigations and provide some information which we have now done. As far as we are concerned, and aware, our involvement with ASADA on this issue has concluded.''

ASADA officials said the majority of NRL players had nothing to fear from the investigation. ''Under the World Anti-Doping Code, ASADA's role is to investigate allegations of doping in sport. ASADA believes the percentage of athletes and support people using and administering the new generation of prohibited substances is small when compared to the thousands of Australian athletes making the right choice.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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