The Cronulla players suspected of drug violations are likely to be still playing all season, while guilty members of the Sharks football department could be banned for life.
NRL rules allow a player who has not tested positive to a drug test to continue playing until his case is heard, but any premiership points earned from wins while he is a member of the team are stripped should he eventually be found guilty.
The AFL have the same rule, meaning that the drugs saga affecting both codes has the potential to see a team on the eve of the grand final lose its points and be forced to forfeit.
Given the massive task faced by ASADA of six investigators interviewing over 150 players at a minimum of six NRL and AFL clubs, it will take more than a year to complete the probe into players, support staff and club officials and lay charges ahead of penalties given.
Fourteen Sharks players have indicated they will contest the charge of using drugs, but if found guilty they are likely to be suspended for two years.
However, "support staff" under ASADA rules, meaning coaches, trainers, masseurs and club doctors, face bans of eight years to life, even if the use of the drug was deemed inadvertent.
Insofar as there is evidence needles were used in the Sharks' dressing room, it would be difficult to escape conviction on a plea of inadvertent use.
The action by the Cronulla board in sacking or standing down five members of the Sharks' football department reflects the seriousness with which they interpret the WADA/ASADA view of the duty of care of support staff.
No doubt the Sharks board took this action to exculpate themselves from guilt but they have a responsibility to the members who elected them.
It could take five years but eventually, if Cronulla as a club is deemed guilty, it may lose its NRL licence.
Even if the NRL chose not to take any action against the Sharks club, WADA can challenge the decision.
Perhaps one reason why the Sharks board recommended its 14 players take early guilty pleas and accept six-month bans was the disruption to the club and the league over premiership points lost through fielding guilty players.
WADA does allow sports the discretion of not immediately standing down players suspected of a doping offence, in the absence of a positive test.
Given the massive scale of the involvement of so many players and clubs in both codes, it seems inevitable the rule will eventually be changed.
The drugs saga threatens to be a protracted one because ASADA is under-resourced. A standard interview involves two ASADA staffers quizzing a player/official, often three times. Transcripts of the interview are then prepared.
ASADA usually have six investigations running simultaneously, sometimes simply the import of a steroid assigned to a sub district rugby union player.
Now they have an inquiry embroiling Australia's two dominant winter football codes.
Protocol is very important to ASADA but I suspect the scale of the potential doping breaches meant they created a short-circuit step in the Sharks probe.