The anti-doping probe into rugby league could be about to claim more scalps after Canberra winger Sandor Earl agreed to assist the investigation after he was charged with using and trafficking banned peptides.
Earl, 23, is the first NRL player to be charged in the seven-month probe by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and he is facing a possible four years to life ban on the trafficking count.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said Earl agreed to assist the ASADA investigation and was seeking the benefit of substantial assistance provisions for doing so.
That means he could get a much-reduced ban for supplying information that implicates others.
Former ASADA chief Richard Ings said that could potentially leave a lot of players feeling very nervous but Earl would have to give ASADA quality information if he was be treated leniently.
"If he was to offer more information coming forward as to where he bought the performance enhancing drugs and particularly who he trafficked them to, it would work in his favour," Ings said.
Smith called a hastily-arranged media conference yesterday afternoon to deliver the shock news that Earl had admitted to the use of, and trafficking in, banned substances when interviewed by ASADA recently.
Earl, who signed to play rugby union in France next year, joined the Raiders in mid-2012 after stints with Sydney Roosters and Penrith.
Smith said he was unable to say what club Earl was playing for when the offences allegedly took place.
However, Canberra released a statement saying it understood that the charges related to a time before he arrived at the Raiders.
The banned peptide Smith said he was charged over (CJC-1295) was reportedly mentioned in the internal report commissioned by the Cronulla club, which is being investigated over its suspect 2011 supplements program while it had controversial biochemist Steve Dank as an adviser.
Dank denied any wrongdoing.
Smith said Earl volunteered to stand down while the charges were dealt with and that he had 10 days to decide whether to go to a tribunal or accept a penalty handed down by the NRL.
"Today's development reinforces the position we have taken from the outset and highlights our resolve in dealing with what are serious issues," Smith said.
"We continue to work with ASADA ... to get to the bottom of all allegations.
"I've said right from the start the allegations were serious and we weren't going to presume guilt and we wanted to get it done pretty quickly.
"This is the first example whereby we have been given facts, we have evidence and the code is stepping forward and issued a notice.
"I can't go into specifics as it will unfold over time."
CJC-1295 is an injectable synthetic peptide hormone that is similar in structure to human growth hormone and can increase lean muscle growth.
Ings said it's a substance that was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and hadn't been cleared for human use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
"This is an unambiguously prohibited substance," Ings said.
"It's unscheduled in Australia.
"It's not approved by the TGA for human use and there's no doubt that this is a performance-enhancing drug."
Smith said the notice against Earl was unrelated to any other part of ASADA's investigation.
He also maintained that no action would be taken against any other parties until evidence was provided to them. AAP