WADA president slams NRL

ASADA has been probing Cronulla since the investigation was launched in February but was only able to commence interviews with players from the club last Monday. Photo / Getty Images
ASADA has been probing Cronulla since the investigation was launched in February but was only able to commence interviews with players from the club last Monday. Photo / Getty Images

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey has launched an astonishing broadside against the NRL after ASADA's interviews with Cronulla players were halted last week.

The former NSW premier has accused the NRL of lacking leadership to deal with the investigation and said the AFL's reaction to the probe, which has engulfed Essendon, was a breath of fresh air in comparison.

ASADA has been probing Cronulla since the investigation was launched in February but was only able to commence interviews with players from the club last Monday.

However, the proceedings were halted following the first interview with Sharks back-rower Wade Graham with lawyers from both parties failing to agree on the line of questioning.

More than a week on and the NRL is still investigating the transcript from the interview and Graham could be suspended should it be deemed he failed to cooperate fully with ASADA.

On Monday the Bombers revealed the findings of an internal review conducted by former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski, which found an alarming lack of governance over the AFL club's controversial supplements program.

Essendon players will be interviewed by ASADA later this week and Fahey said the AFL had been far more proactive in dealing with the situation than the NRL.

"I believe at the moment as a club and as an administration they've said 'we took our eye off the ball, we didn't do it right. We have to improve,"' Fahey told Sky News.

"The AFL has conducted enquires and they've acknowledged they have a problem.

"What a breath of fresh air that is. From what I am seeing as a casual observer that is not happening in Sydney with rugby league."

"I wish I could see the same leadership in Sydney as I see in Melbourne."

Graham was roundly criticised for his casual attire when he attended the meeting and Fahey has voiced his disapproval at the lack of answers from the NRL about why the interviews have been abandoned.

"There's been a profound silence from rugby league in the wake of what followed," he said.

"Information has been given to ASADA by the ACC (Australian Crime Commission) but it must make its own enquiries.

"It sought cooperation from rugby league and from what I can see from the first interview the lawyers there prevented any answers being given.

"So much so, it seems little point in ASADA continuing.

"But the information is not going to go away and it means it will drag on much longer.

"Ultimately it will come home to roost. It took more than two years of forensic information to get Lance Armstrong and he's now viewed as the greatest fraud in sport."

"I'm not suggesting it is a similar problem but rugby league needs to allow this to be properly dealt with and the sooner it will disappear."

Fahey also warned that the wall of silence could have major repercussions for the game.

"There is a risk of complete meltdown if this stonewalling continues," Fahey said.

"Those who are involved could find themselves dealt with more harshly than had they cooperated."

The NRL released a statement responding to Fahey late on Tuesday:

"The seriousness of the matters announced by the ACC has always demanded an ASADA investigation and that is the authority that we support absolutely in this process," it read.

"We are ready to act once ASADA can provide information which would substantiate an infraction notice and they are aware of that fact.

"Our position all along has been that the investigation must be as thorough as the legal process will allow and we continue to assist ASADA just as we have from the outset."

- AAP

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