Drug cheat tag shatters Gallen
PAUL Gallen's father, who is based on the Sunshine Coast, has flown to Sydney to comfort his son following the drug ban that may end the troubled NRL star's Test career.
Garry Gallen said the Sharks forward had been "dealing with some demons" after accepting a guilty plea deal stemming from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's two-year investigation into Cronulla's 2011 supplements program.
"What's that saying they are trying to get blokes to say now? 'Are you okay?' He's been struggling for two years and I think he's really dealing with some demons there," Gallen said.
He spoke to his son four times on Thursday while the 17 players under investigation weighed up whether to accept a backdated one-year plea deal that expires in November.
"I rung him (on Thursday night) and I said that I was so proud of him because he knew he was 100% innocent and he should fight it," Gallen said.
"That's when he told me they had been backed into a corner and had accepted the deal."
Gallen had advised his son to clear his name, but was told there was no guarantee the New South Wales captain could play while contesting ASADA's findings.
"This has been going for two seasons and they've got the opportunity to finish all this in three weeks. I suppose that's the only saving grace," he said.
Most players will miss only this season's final fixtures because ASADA offered a more lenient deal if the players accepted they were "doped and duped". But Gallen will miss the end-of-season Four Nations Tour and his father believes it may spell an early end to his son's international career.
If the 31-Test veteran played Australia's four games and the final, he would have moved to equal 10th on the all-time test tally and drawn level with Immortal Wally Lewis.
"HE'S shattered he won't play for Australia," his father said.
"It's what every rugby league player aspires to and they've been a great lot of mates over the last 30 or so Tests.
"Paul's at the age where he might have retired from international football after this year and this might have forced that."
The greater disappointment, according to his father, is that Gallen's reputation lies in tatters after 241 appearances for Cronulla, 19 Origin games for New South Wales and 31 appearances in green and gold.
"He rung me (yesterday) morning and said: 'dad, I'm officially a drug cheat now'," Gallen said.
"That's the hardest part because we know he never put a banned substance in his body.
"He doesn't want his kids to go to school and tell their mates that their dad was a footy player and "drug cheat", to be the first thing they see when they Google his name.
"He's mentally very tough. I've heard him down before, but he's got a wonderful family and he's still on a pretty good contract and I think he's got more than another year in him."
Gallen Snr, employed in Nambour and a resident at Twin Waters, took aim at ASADA, saying the length of the players' ban proved the investigation was flawed.
Testimony from the players about use of prohibited substances CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 in 2011 is likely to be used against club officials.
"It's a most embarrassing governing body that gives so-called 'drug cheats' three weeks," Gallen said.
"I think they should count their blessings while they can because they've shown themselves to be quite incompetent."