Sharks decision: What it means
What punishments have the NRL announced for the Sharks?
• The NRL has proposed the Cronulla Sharks be fined $1 million, $400,000 of which will be suspended if the club carries out an independent governance review and further specified governance changes;
• Sharks coach Shane Flanagan to be suspended for 12 months, although this may be shortened to nine months if he completes further education and training;
• Former Cronulla head of strength and conditioning Trent Elkin to have his NRL registration cancelled; and
• The club, Flanagan and Elkin have until January 15 to respond to the breach notices, with the responses to be considered by the NRL before any final decision is made.
Is there any way Shane Flanagan can coach the Sharks in 2014?
Although Flanagan is suspended effective immediately, it all depends on the outcome of any response or representation Flanagan makes to the NRL by the designated January 15 cut-off. Based on the NRL's statement, if the preliminary findings against Flanagan for breaching the NRL Code of Conduct are upheld the minimum ban he would incur would be for nine months, effective immediately. If that were the case Flanagan would not be able to take control at Cronulla until September 17, midway through the 2014 NRL Finals Series.
Why didn't the NRL step in when Flanagan was reinstated in March this year?
At that stage the NRL had not conducted an investigation into governance and was working with ASADA. The NRL also undertook not to act without evidence. The NRL during the course of the year, through its Integrity Unit, gathered information. As ASADA completed its interviews with players at the club and as it became clear that further investigations would not jeopardise ASADA, the NRL carried out a full investigation of governance at Cronulla which had led to this determination.
Is the fine of $1 million final?
No; again, the club has until January 15 to respond to the breach notice. If however the preliminary findings are upheld, 40 per cent of the $1 million fine ($400,000) will be suspended subject to the satisfaction by the club of a number of conditions including completion of an independent governance review and further governance changes.
Could the fine have been more?
The $1 million fine is the maximum fine amount under the NRL rules. The NRL statement does refer to the maximum fine in reaching the decision, which is why in provision a portion of the amount has been suspended. NRL CEO Dave Smith said the penalty was arrived at after assessing all mitigating factors, including that there is a new board and management team in place at Cronulla and that they are already making effective changes to build a stronger governance framework.
What does the decision mean for the Sharks players?
Today's proposed penalties have no effect on the Cronulla players.
Does it mean the ASADA investigation is over?
No. In relation to anti-doping rule violations, whilst at this stage ASADA has not provided any information warranting any further infraction notices, the investigation remains ongoing.
Are the penalties set in concrete?
No; they are provisional at this stage. There is opportunity for Cronulla, Flanagan and Elkin to make submissions in relation to these matters.