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NRL sticks by Cronulla and Flanagan supplements penalties

March 6, 2014

The NRL has rejected an appeal by suspended Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan and the Sharks relating to the sanctions handed down as a result of the club's 2011 supplements program.

Flanagan had been provisionally banned for 12 months and the Sharks fined $1 million, $400,000 of which was suspended, when the NRL issued breach notices last December.

But NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith did not rule out Flanagan's ban being reduced to nine months, should he undergo further education and training.

The league has also dismissed the appeal of former Sharks trainer Trent Elkin, who had his NRL registration cancelled.

Flanagan, the Sharks and Elkin have five business days to contest the final decision handed down by the NRL.

Smith says the appeal process on the part of the NRL had been "very fair" and "transparent", telling a media conference at Rugby League Central "I've gone through a very detailed and thorough review of the information I received ... and we've reached this final decision."

Smith says he saw no reason to overturn the NRL's initial decision following the appeals being lodged, stating "I've been able to make a final determination and the information I received post the 17th of December preliminary findings does not lead me to change the findings."

Smith clarified its stance on Flanagan attending Sharks' matches, after the NRL had launched an investigation following his appearance at a trial match at Shark Park last month.

The NRL judged Flanagan had not breached the rules of his suspension, having been assured by the Sharks he was at the match in a private capacity.

Smith added "the rules do not prevent him (Flanagan) from attending games, but he cannot have any direct involvement with the team."

"The intention is not to stop people going to watch a game.

"The intention here is to make sure that when you are suspended you have no direct or indirect involvement with the club."

Smith says the NRL felt changing its initial decision handed down in December would jeopardise its intention of maintaining player welfare.

He concluded "we are talking about players who were allegedly injected and given substances and we do not know what they were.

"The fact that we do not know what they were makes it very serious. We will not put the welfare of our players at risk."

The suspended portion of the Sharks' fine is subject to the club making governance changes and complying with NRL rules.

Elkin can apply to have his registration restored within the next two years although the NRL outlined it is "unlikely to be looked at favourably".

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into the Sharks' supplements program concluded last week, with former Federal Court Judge Garry Downes reviewing evidence to decide whether it should be taken forward.

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