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NRL accused of head in sand over drugs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/05/2017 Steve Zemek

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has been accused of having his head in the sand by former ASADA boss Richard Ings over the prevalence of illicit drug use in the game.

Ings said Greenberg should be called out for stating that the use of cocaine and other recreational drugs was no more widespread amongst rugby league players than the rest of society.

Greenberg made the comments after star players Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich as well as Cronulla club chairman Damian Keogh all faced illicit drug allegations within 48 hours.

While the allegations against the four have not been substantiated, Ings said the use of cocaine and other drugs was widespread.

He pointed to disgraced Wests Tigers player Tim Simona's admission he used cocaine regularly throughout his career and Ben Barba's 12-week suspension for a second strike after he tested positive for the illegal substance following Mad Monday celebrations last year.

"Todd Greenberg has got his head in the sand," Ings said.

"The rest of society doesn't have an illicit drug testing program to minimise the use of recreational drugs and the NRL does.

"In the last 48 hours there were three players and a club chairman, the person who is responsible for enforcing the rules, were subject to these allegations.

"Does Todd Greenberg think that that number of people in the sport being associated with the use of drugs is just bad luck?"

The three incidents earned the game a black eye and took attention away from this week's representative round.

Greenberg flagged increasing the game's testing regime while former NSW skipper Paul Gallen has previously called for one strike to result in an automatic two-year ban.

Under NRL rules, the first strike results in the player being referred to his club CEO for education and rehabilitation with the second strike resulting in a 12-week suspension. Upon a third strike a player is referred to the NRL CEO for punishment.

Ings said the players were given adequate education about the dangers of recreational drugs and called for players who test positive to be publicly named upon their first strike.

"There should be a consequence, whatever that consequence is it is clearly inadequate at present amongst NRL players," Ings said.

"I've always been of the view that the first strike should be a public warning and counselling. Because the only thing that deters drugs in sport is the public nature of any consequence."

Kenny-Dowall is due to face court next month after he was on Friday morning arrested at a Sydney nightclub allegedly in possession of just under half a gram of cocaine.

Keogh has stood down from his role at the Sharks after he was arrested in Woolloomooloo on Friday night when he was allegedly found with a small resealable bag containing a quantity of white powder during a police search.

He is due to face Downing Centre Local Court on June 30.

Bromwich has stood down as New Zealand skipper and suspended by Melbourne for two weeks while Proctor has stood down from playing duties as well as the Gold Coast co-captaincy.

They were embroiled in the scandal after a Canberra man was charged over the possession and supply of a drug of dependence.

The Titans and Storm said both players were too drunk to remember the incident however could not deny the allegations. Neither are expected to face police charges.

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