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Posted by stacey (Admins) at May 15 2013, 01:31 PM. 0 comments
Fashion victim: Sharks forward Wade Graham.
Photo: Peter Rae
F- - - ing bewdy.
I know, I know, this is not the usual way to start a f- - - ing sports column, and I would like to begin by pointing out to all younger readers particularly, they must not try this at home. This kind of language is best left in the hands of us sports professionals who really know what we're doing. Otherwise, someone might get hurt.
But where the f- - - was I?
That's right, trying to get into the head space of Wade Graham, the 22-year-old Cronulla Sharks player who first came to wider public attention a fortnight ago when he turned up to the ASADA investigation in T-shirt and thongs, backward baseball cap and an attitude that would kill a f- - -ing brown dog. He certainly didn't look like someone who had come to clear up some terrible misunderstanding the respected professionals of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had, to the effect that Cronulla players might have been using performance-enhancing drugs and, in fact, he proved so f- - - ing belligerent the interview had to be abandoned in a very short space of time.
At the time we knew little of what had gone on, only that he was lionised by players, officials and even a fair chunk of the media for his refusal to co-operate with the authorities in their efforts to prevent both cheating and the taking of unsafe drugs.
What a guy! Told 'em nothing!
This week, via Danny Weidler, we learnt more.
Once inside the room with the ASADA officials and their investigators, they tried to ease him into the process of working out what went on at Cronulla in 2011 by asking him to paint a picture of his career . . .
"I'm not here to paint a f- - - ing picture . . .," the young man snapped back.
This occasioned more lionising, even from officials, as revealed by Weidler. "It is, "[because of this attitude]," Weidler wrote, that Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has no hesitation in saying that he'll be a future captain of the club."
Really, coach Flanagan? This is leadership? This is the public face and attitude you want for the club, the one you'd like in a position to deal with referees and officials of all description?
"Offside, get back your 10!"
"F- - - off, ref, we were f- - - ing not!" Good luck. But let's go down that path for a little anyway.
Can I invite you, Wade Graham, in your own language, to expand a little on what you are pleased to call your "thoughts" on this matter?
I mean, is there any chance that in a serious, formal investigation, devoted to nothing more than getting to the bottom of things, so the NRL competition can proceed on a totally level playing field, and be absolutely fair for all – and healthy for all – you could actually f- - - ing co-operate?
Say, any chance, you could just tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the f- - - ing truth? Why not? Why the f- - - NOT?!?! Huh?
For that's the point here. There are only two basic possibilities:
1. Cronulla cheated blind in 2011 and had players being injected with dangerous peptides and all the rest.
2. It's a terrible misunderstanding.
Do you f- - - ing get this, Wade? These blokes you were talking to are just trying to work out which f- - - ing one it is! And it seems really weird to most of us that if it really is option 2, that you won't f- - - ing co-operate with them. Makes lots of us bastards in the media think it must be f- - - ing option 1!
Looks to me like you bastards haven't thought it all through, and if those douches dinkum go you, like really f- - - ing hard, you know where you'll be and not even a f- - - ing paddle will get you back from there.
F- - - ing think about it.
Posted by stacey (Admins) at May 15 2013, 01:18 PM. 0 comments
Tough stance: The Sharks are gambling that ASADA doesn't have sufficient evidence against them. Photo: Getty Images
Cronulla players are likely to be still arguing with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority this time next year, when Essendon players will have already served their suspensions.
That is the most likely scenario, unless federal government lawyers succeed in gaining immediate permission to use evidence collected by the Australian Crime Commission. ASADA and the ACC have a mountain of information, including testimony by guilty parties and emails and text messages, but some of the ACC material cannot be used as evidence against the NRL and AFL players because it was gained by coercion.
Government lawyers are working late to devise ways the material can be supplied to ASADA in order to build a stronger case against players and coaches.
The Sharks are gambling that ASADA does not have sufficient evidence against them, basically taking the view: We don't know what drugs we took, and the people who injected us aren't talking either. The NRL appears to be supporting them in this stance, insisting the players should be allowed their common law right not to incriminate themselves.
After all, the Cronulla players' NRL contract obliges them to co-operate with ASADA, and this could be interpreted as reporting for an interview. If David Gallop were still in charge at the NRL, it would be different.
Gallop is deputy chairman of the Australian Sports Commission - the federal government's sport funding and policy arm - meaning he would feel obliged to demand Cronulla comply with all the requests of another federal government body. However, another lawyer and former chairman of an NRL club, Newcastle's Michael Hill, supports the Cronulla players' stance, pointing out they already have short careers. ''The players also have the moral and legal backing of 200 years of the Australian system of law, that is, that if you accuse someone of doing something, you have to prove it,'' Hill said.
A player's contractual obligation to co-operate with ASADA is different to WADA's ''substantial assistance'' clause. This applies only to players who plead guilty and seek a 75 per cent reduction in their sanction, taking it from two years to six months. Although the Cronulla and Essendon cases are mirror images of each other, the codes are poles apart in their dealings with ASADA. From the outset, when Essendon announced they had invited the AFL and ASADA to investigate them for doping violations, all the parties have been on the same page. When an Essendon player is interviewed, in attendance are representatives of the AFL integrity unit, ASADA, player managers and the AFL Players’ Association.
If all the Essendon players agree on the circumstances of the injections they were given and provide the same evidence to ASADA, they could scarcely be accused of ‘‘dobbing in a teammate’’. It is possible all the guilty Essendon players could be served with six-month suspensions beginning October 1 and concluding a couple of games into the 2014 season. However, the AFL, Essendon and ASADA can’t effectively massage an agreed penalty.
ASADA must supply an independent body, the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel, with a brief of evidence and a recommended course of action. It will ask the ADRVP to list the player/coach/trainer on ASADA’s Register of Findings, the official instrument which lays a charge against him/her.
The ADRVP reviews the evidence and will say yes, no, or instruct ASADA to collect more material. Assuming it says yes, ASADA sends a letter to the player/coach/trainer informing him he has a case to answer. A letter is also sent to the NRL/AFL informing them of the decision.
It is then the responsibility of the NRL/AFL to issue an infraction notice, summoning the player to its own tribunal.
This answers those who ask: Why doesn’t ASADA charge the Cronulla players? Why doesn’t the NRL/AFL charge them?
The Register of Findings is the automatic trigger to a charge, and neither ASADA nor the sporting body can do anything until it has been set.
There is one more complication. Because the dealings are with government bodies, an Administrative Appeals Tribunal sits in the middle of all this. The player has a right to take his case to the tribunal, and the NRL/AFL will wait to see if he does this before summoning him to their tribunal.
Hence, the possibility the Cronulla case could drag on to next year, while guilty Essendon players could be back on the field by round two next season.
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