HIGH-PROFILE NSW State of Origin winning captain Paul Gallen is understood to be one of 17 past and present Cronulla players issued with show-cause notices by national drug watchdog ASADA after 18 months of investigating the club's supplements program in 20011.
But Gallen, who will meet the National Rugby League in Sydney today, believes he and fellow team-mates will be labelled drug cheats if they accept a reported offer of suspensions ranging between six months to two years.
Gallen, who celebrated the highlight of his career last month leading NSW to it first Origin series win since 2005, and the other players served notices have 10 days to seek legal advice and show cause why they should not be hit with infraction notices.
ASADA is believed to have softened suspensions for players who co-operated with their investigation which started 18 months ago but have failed to live up to fears that their findings would lead to the "blackest day in Australian sport".
"It's our reputation tarnished now already , but no matter what, if we do this (accept the suspensions) we're going to be labelled a drug cheat," said Gallen would miss the end-of-year Four Nations tournament if he took ASAD's deal.
ASADA could come under fire for offering "deals" that would mean some of the players they believe took drugs would barely miss any rugby league with the suspensions being served on the off season.
Essendon missed the AFL finals following a similar ASADA investigation.
Other athletes and swimmers face a straight out two year ban for the similar offences.
Sharks say five current players issued with show cause notices
THE Cronulla Sharks have been advised that five players currently contracted to the club have received 'show cause' notices from Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
"Players have been offered a proposal regarding a possible suspension, which they need to consider before the weekend, with the players to consult with their legal representatives over the next two days in relation to their individual circumstances,'' the club said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
T"he Sharks will continue to act in the best interests of the players and are providing on-going support, both to those issued with the notices as well as others in the club, while solicitors acting for the players will continue to manage the process on their behalf.
"At this point in time the Cronulla Sharks Football Club will be making no further comment on any matter relating to the ASADA investigation or today's developments."
Breaches of ASADA rules for doping usually carry penalties of up to two years.
Earlier Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen said on Sydney radio if he or any player accepted a deal of a reduced ban from ASADA they would be labelled a drug cheat.
"What is going to happen is going to happen,'' Gallen said.
"It's a real hard situation to be in.''
"We can't explain it to you.
"The next couple of days is going to be interesting.''
"I'm 100% positive I have never taken anything that's on any banned list.''
"The frustrating thing for us is... listening to the Essendon thing... it is all just political.''
Gallen said it would be 'huge' for him to miss playing for Australia over the off season.
"It's your reputation. If we do this (cop a reduced ban), we will be labelled drug cheats.''
There had been speculation that the players would be offered a six month ban, most of which could be served over the off-season.
Gallen would be affected most by such a deal as he would miss out on playing for Australia in the Four Nations Cup in October.
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