Cronulla captain Paul Gallen has welcomed federal government moves to expedite a conclusion to the year-long anti-doping investigation into his NRL club.
Federal Sports Minister Peter Dutton announced on Monday the appointment of Federal Court judge Garry Downes to assist the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, reviewing its complex investigations into the NRL and AFL and reporting by the end of April.
Friday will mark a year since the so-called “darkest day in Australian sport”, when an Australian Crime Commission media conference launched the probes.
As the saga heads into a second NRL season, Gallen hopes it can be resolved before much longer and has vowed his team will again refuse to be distracted despite the personal toll its taking.
“It has been 12 months now. It is a pain for everyone. I think everyone is over it, we will just wait and see,” Gallen said on Tuesday.
“One way or the other it has to be resolved. There are no secrets about what has happened. I don’t think there are any secret stories out there.
“We will just have to wait and see what they come up with but the quicker they do it is better for everyone I think.”
Last week the Cronulla club, as well as suspended coach Shane Flanagan and banned trainer Trent Elkin, now with Parramatta, submitted their responses to the NRL’s breach notice over alleged mismanagement of the club’s supplements program in 2011.
The Sharks were hit with a $1 million fine, Flanagan was banned for a year and Elkin for two years.
All parties are believed to be appealing the sanctions.
The Sharks dealt well with the pressure of the ASADA investigation to qualify for the 2013 final series and Gallen said they would not use it as an excuse in 2014 despite being without Flanagan.
“To be honest we don’t pay too much attention to it. What’s going on at the moment doesn’t have anything to do with the players,” he said.
“Obviously Shane is involved, he is a massive part of the group, he has done a lot for our club and we really hope he gets through it but as far as the players go, it doesn’t really affect us, we just have to go in there and do our job.
“It never gets easier, I’m not going to lie.
“But we never let it affect us last year. We never used that as an excuse on the field. It affected our personal lives, hugely every single one of us but we never used it as an excuse when we got to training, and we never used it as an excuse for any losses we had or any part of the season so that is the way we are approaching it this season.”