Sport Rugby League NRL rejects Sharks appeal, uphold penalties

NRL rejects Sharks appeal, uphold penalties

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Suspended Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and their former trainer Trent Elkin have had their appeals over bans stemming from the club’s 2011 supplements program rejected.  

NRL chief executive Dave Smith and chief operating officer Jim Doyle made the announcement in Sydney on Wednesday, the eve of the 2014 season.

The decision means the preliminary $1 million fine imposed on the Sharks on December 17 will stand, as will the 12-month ban on Flanagan and the cancellation of Elkin’s registration.

All three parties opted to appeal the sanctions initially handed down on December 17, which related to Cronulla’s supplements program during the 2011 season when the Sharks squad was allegedly exposed to an 11-week regimen of injection, creams and tablets.

When announcing the initial findings last year, Smith said the club, Flanagan and Elkin had failed many of the players in regards to safeguarding their health and welfare, adding that they were exposed to significant potential risk.

“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 that the club breached the NRL code of conduct in several respects in relation to its supplements program during 2010-2011 and that Mr Flanagan and Mr Elkin were responsible for a number of the failings that lead to those breaches.”

As previously announced, $400,000 of the Sharks’ fine will be suspended – subject to a number of conditions.

Similarly, Flanagan’s suspension can be reduced to nine months if he satisfies conditions imposed by the NRL, including the completion of an intensive education and training course.

“The NRL will not accept any practices that put our players at risk,” Smith said.

“Our clubs are obligated to ensure proper processes are in place to protect our players and we will always take strong action and decisive action when there is a failure to do so,” Smith added.

“I want this game to be strong, healthy and aligned to the community’s values.”

Cronulla, Flanagan and Elkin now have five business days in which to lodge any appeals against Wednesday’s findings.

The results in the long-running Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) investigation into Cronulla’s supplements program have yet to be handed down.

ASADA said last week the information gathering phase of that investigation was over and former Federal Court Judge Garry Downes is now reviewing the evidence to decide whether it should be taken forward.

Smith attempted to clarify the rules of Flanagan’s suspension which says he must have no direct or indirect involvement with the club or its players, after he attended the Sharks trial game against the Wests Tigers last Saturday at Remondis Stadium.

“The intention here is not to stop Shane, for example, go watch his son play football. Our rules don’t allow us to prevent, in this case, attending Shark Park,” he said.

“What’s clear is we want no direct or indirect involvement with the club through his suspension.”

Wednesday’s decision means Flanagan will not be able to take charge of the Sharks for their season opener against the Gold Coast on Monday night.

View Comments