Manly coach Geoff Toovey maintains the NRL club has nothing to hide from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) despite reports of players receiving off-site injections of calves blood.
The claims come less than 24 hours after Darren Hibbert, a supplier to controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, claimed 20 NRL players independently purchased supplements from the back of his car.
Toovey, who is preparing his side to face Newcastle at Brookvale on Sunday night, said he’d not been updated by ASADA officials or by the NRL about the probe and would treat all claims as speculation until told otherwise.
Calves blood, which is officially known as Actovegin, is not a banned substance and was cleared by ASADA when the Sea Eagles first used it in 2009.
However, it was reportedly used on players – without the knowledge of the Sea Eagles’ club doctor – at the home of Josh Perry, who now plays for English Super League side St Helens.
Toovey said the club was unaware of such practices but no longer used Actovegin as there was no scientific evidence it worked.
“From my recollection, the only thing that was injected here was Actovegin which was approved by all the bodies and ASADA,” Toovey said on Thursday.
Toovey said the allegations made by Hibbert were nothing to be concerned about and cast doubts over their authenticity but admitted there was only so much clubs could do to protect their players.
“It’s all speculation,” Toovey said.
“It’s not in our procedures and protocols so I would be surprised if that happened.
“We can only control what we can control. That is the same with every club – you put rules in place to hopefully safeguard the players.
“The club can only do what the club will do. Individual players know the responsibility to the club and to themselves.”
It’s been 36 days since the Canberra press conference where details of the Australian Crime Commission’s Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report were revealed, and ASADA is still in the process of conducting its investigation.
But legislation introduced last month which would compel suspect athletes and other people to answer questions from ASADA and hand over documents on request is in danger of being blocked by the Senate – meaning the investigation could be prolonged.
On Thursday, the Australian Greens gave strong indications they would follow The Coalition and not back the government’s plan.
“If we go on and essentially give powers that treat athletes worse than common criminals … and potentially for no gain, we won’t be supporting the bill in its current form,” Greens senator Richard Di Natale told reporters in Canberra.
Toovey said the prolonged innuendo wasn’t affecting his players and said they had nothing to fear.
“I understand there is a job to be done by the various bodies and they can’t rush things,” Toovey said.
“But we’d like to expedite things. But I don’t think we have too much to worry about and the players are focused on rugby league.”
Wests Tigers back-rower Braith Anasta says NRL players are tired of the constant talk of the investigation and said the season has almost become a sideshow.
“There’s all this speculation and innuendo. At the start it was a case of ‘this is all garbage’,” Anasta said.
“But until there’s some hard evidence we all think it’s a waste of time at the moment.”