Rugby league has been plunged into crisis with alleged cocaine scandals involving a club chairman and three players in three separate incidents over the weekend.
Despite the spate of alleged incidents involving high-profile players and an administrator, one club boss has denied the sport has a drugs problem.
Cronulla Sharks chairman Damian Keogh has stood down after his arrest on Friday night for alleged drug possession.
Meanwhile, a Canberra man has appeared in court after allegedly selling cocaine to Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich and teammate Kevin Proctor after their Test loss to Australia in the city on Friday evening.
Bromwich and Proctor allegedly joined Canberra man Adrian Mark Crowther, 45, outside the Cube nightclub in Canberra’s city centre.
Police allegedly observed Mr Crowther on CCTV video preparing a white powder on his phone, before handing it to the two men, who rolled up bank notes and consumed the substance.
According to court documents, by the time police arrived Bromwich and Proctor, who also play for the Melbourne Storm and Gold Coast Titans respectively, had already left.
While both players were named in court, neither has been charged with an offence.
The incident involving Bromwich and Proctor has been reported to the NRL Integrity Unit by the New Zealand Rugby League.
No charges have been laid against either player.
The incidents come only a day after Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall was also charged over drug possession in Sydney on Thursday night. That incident is also believed to involve cocaine.
Cronulla boss ‘distressed and disappointed’
Mr Keogh was arrested in Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo, in inner Sydney, on Friday night.
A NSW police spokesperson told The New Daily that at 7.50pm on Friday police “had cause” to search a 55-year-old man at a licensed premises on Bourke Street.
“During the search, police allegedly located a small resealable bag containing a quantity of white powder believed to be cocaine.
“The man was issued with a field court attendance notice (similar to an infringement notice) for the offence of possess prohibited drug,” he said.
He is due to face Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on June 30, and was in distressed state on Saturday morning, according to Cronulla chief executive Lyall Gorman.
“He expressed great remorse to me that he had let me down personally,” Mr Gorman told reporters.
“He’s very distressed and disappointed about potential outcomes on the game and the club.”
Our Club would like to release the following statement.
— Cronulla Sharks FC (@Cronulla_Sharks) May 6, 2017
Mr Keogh is also chief executive of movie giant Hoyts.
Mr Gorman was also forced to defend allegations of a drug problem at the club after superstar fullback Ben Barba also departed at the end of the 2016 season after testing positive for a second time to cocaine.
“I don’t believe it is endemic at all,” Mr Gorman said.
“If something like these allegations or other behavioural issues are endemic, you don’t achieve what our club has achieved over the past two-and-a-half years on and off the field.”
The NRL are yet to comment on the New Zealand matter, but chief executive Todd Greenberg said on Saturday they were waiting on further information from the Sharks on Mr Keogh.
“We are aware of an incident which involves the Sharks chairman,” Mr Greenberg said.
“We are awaiting further details from the Sharks about what has occurred.”
Mr Keogh, a former Australian basketball star who made three Olympic Games teams, took over at the Sharks during the supplements scandal in 2013.
He was voted onto the board after the infamous ASADA press conference and helped rebuild the struggling club from wooden spooners to premiership winners last season.
– with AAP/ABC