Sharks penalties over supplements to stand
The NRL has rejected an appeal from Shane Flanagan and Trent Elkin and imposed the original suspensions handed down in December.
Late last year Flanagan had been suspended by the NRL for 12 months, and Cronulla fined A$1 million as part of an investigation into governance issues surrounding the supplements programme run by former strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin in 2011.
Elkin had his registration cancelled and as a result was suspended indefinitely, advised it would be unlikely he would be considered worthy of employment in the game for two years.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith stood by his original decision when he fronted the media on Wednesday afternoon on the eve of the season opener, rejecting the appeals that were submitted last month after Flanagan and Elkin were granted extended deadlines.
''Having thoroughly and carefully reviewed their submissions we have today advised the club, Mr Flanagan and Mr Elkin of my final determinations,'' Smith said.
''They are to confirm the club breached the NRL code of conduct in several respects in relation to its supplement programme during 2010 and 2011 and that Mr Flanagan and Mr Elkin were responsible for the number of the failings that led to those breaches. The club is fined A$1 million of which A$400,000 is suspended subject to the satisfaction of governance changes and compliance with the NRL rules. Mr Flanagan's registration is suspended for 12 months or until he satisfies the conditions imposed by the NRL. However, he may return in nine months if those conditions are satisfied by then.
"Mr Elkin's registration is cancelled. Consistent with my earlier decision if Mr Elkin were to make an application within the next two years it would, of course, be assessed on its merits but would be unlikely to be looked at favourably."
Flanagan could have his suspension reduced to nine months if he undertook further education and demonstrated awareness of his obligations as a head coach.
''In summary the club must complete an independent governance review, undertake an assessment of their risk and reporting framework, appoint additional resources in their football department, comply with the new supplement and medication rules,'' Smith said. "Mr Flanagan must comply with the conditions of his suspension, complete an intensive education and training course and demonstrate he fully understands his responsibilities as a head coach. The NRL will not accept any practices that put our players at risk. I want this game to be strong, healthy and aligned to the community's values.''
Flanagan was in hot water recently for watching a Cronulla trial and Smith said he can attend games but not interact with the team. ''The suspension ruling is clear - he's to have no direct or indirect involvement with the club, its sponsors, its players - anybody involved directly or indirectly with the club. The intention here is not, for example, to stop Shane from going to watch his son play football and our rules don't allow us to prevent, in this case, Shane from attending Shark Park. What's clear is we want no direct or indirect involvement with the club through his suspension.''
Sydney Morning Herald