Former ASADA boss Richard Ings says NRL players who have been offered reduced bans by the doping body should vehemently oppose the charges like AFL club Essendon have if they are innocent.
Ings believes the 17 current and former Cronulla players, who were at the club during the 2011 season and have been offered sweetheart deals that would result in just a month’s suspension, should reject the offer if they are simply looking for a conclusion to the protracted saga.
The players have until Friday to accept the deal or it is off the table.
Essendon are currently awaiting the findings in their Federal Court case questioning the legitimacy of the joint investigation by the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority into the club.
“My analysis is these are very serious charges, that ASADA has a case for the charges and are trying to get to the bottom of what the fault is for individual players,” ex-ASADA chief executive Ings told Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.
“Those that challenge the process and are to be found at fault might face higher bans but the options are on the table.
“At the end of the day a player through their counsel need to make a decision that is in their best interests.
“If they are really have done nothing wrong then this would be the sort of case where they should absolutely challenge that process, as the Essendon players have done very significantly.
“But if they have, even unwittingly, used performance-enhancing drugs the offers on the table would be attractive.”
Rugby League Players’ Association Boss David Garnsey has urged players to put their rights first as they consider the bans – an approach also suggested by Ings.
“Players should fight these accusations if they do not have foundation,” Ings said.
“If I was a player I would be asking ASADA to lay out the evidence before me.
“Exactly what is the basis for the accusations? Look at that evidence, if that evidence has merit, then cutting a deal is the smart move.
“If that evidence has no merit then it should be challenged.”