The Roosters have been embroiled in the ASADA drug investigations with the Sydney Morning Herald revealing six players had tested for elevated levels of HGH.
According the article this morning:
Rugby League’s minor premiers the Sydney Roosters have admitted they sacked a sports nutrition company after players’ blood tests returned elevated readings for the banned substance Human Growth Hormone. Details of the blood tests results for six players showing elevated levels of HGH were found on the phone of an organised crime figure which was seized by law enforcement officers.
The information has since been referred to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. After he was contacted by Fairfax Media following its discovery of the revelations, Brian Canavan, the Rooster’s chief operating officer, said that the firm Nubodi, run by Sean Carolan, was hired by the club in December last year to provide blood profiles of players in preparation for detox diets.
”We were very unhappy that the extended testing was conducted. It was done without our knowledge. The players underwent the test without knowledge or consent.”
When the unauthorised blood tests were provided by Mr Carolan, the club terminated his services. Mr Canavan said three players with elevated levels – Boyd Cordner, Sam Moa and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – were later re-tested by the club’s medical staff and the blood tests did not return elevated levels of HGH. Rooster’s chairman Nick Politis said it was common for ”Islanders to spike up with HGH” and that both the club’s testing and ASADA’s testing throughout the year had not uncovered any questionable readings.
But it was not until mid-year that the Roosters informed the integrity unit of the NRL about the involvement of Nubodi and the elevated HGH blood test results.
The story goes on the claim that the blood results were first found on an underworld figure’s mobile phone, and police referred the information to ASADA.
ASADA said they can’t comment on an investigation that is ongoing — but the original leak came from them. 26 Rounds saw a text revealing that three Roosters players were involved and that elevated levels of HGH were at the centre of it — and that organised crime was also a big part of the investigation.
That text was sent around a week before Paul Kent revealed on NRL360 that another club that had yet to be named was about to be questioned — with many thinking it was the Roosters — last Wednesday.
So it’s a bit ingenuous for ASADA to claim they can’t comment when they spoonfed the lion’s share of the information to the papers.
However, we cannot dismiss the investigative reporting that has gone into this article. Kate McClymont is involved in the article, and she’s widely regarded as the best investigative journalist in Australia. You may remember her from the Bulldogs salary cap scandal and the Eddie Obeid saga — she is, in a word, brilliant.
The HGH findings are concerning — as I am sure they are to ASADA, the NRL and the Roosters. But in subsequent tests ‘‘the couple of players who had elevated readings were tested again by our club doctor and those readings were perfectly normal,” said Canavan. “Some tests were done which were part of a normal nutrition test that the athletes undergo.”
This writer does not know enough about the science to know whether Polynesian players actually naturally spike with HGH — all I know is the basics in that everyone has a natural level of it, and that can vary from person to person.
Of great concern is why the results were on the mobile phone of an underworld figure, which implies that an extortion attempt or a blackmail attempt might have been on the cards.
It’s certainly a story worth chasing. But Canavan’s openness in responding to the media suggests the club has and will continue to fully and honestly cooperate with ASADA and the NRL to clear its name here.
At any rate, this is not the last you’ll hear of this story. Sadly, this has come at the wrong time of year as the Roosters face the Knights on Saturday with a grand final spot up for grabs.