On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the ‘‘blackest day in Australian Sport’’, Cronulla have been rocked by news a third player is now suing the club.
Fairfax Media can reveal that former player Broderick Wright is taking legal action against the club, joining ex-teammates Isaac Gordon and Josh Cordoba in a lawsuit against Cronulla.
Wright’s lawyers sent the Sharks a letter of demand on Wednesday afternoon informing the club of their former player’s decision to sue them for negligence, breach of contract and intentional tort during a period in 2011 when controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank ran a supplements program.
‘‘It’s been a long and difficult time since details of the supplement program were revealed,’’ Wright said. ‘‘I have been troubled by the obvious abuse of trust by Cronulla, but what they put me through by subjecting me to the program and exposing us to unknown risks was just wrong and I feel I need to make it right. I love rugby league and seeing the other guys come forward gave me strength to speak up too.”
The 26-year-old’s decision to take legal action against the club comes just seven days before Dank is required to hand over any documents relating to the program to Shine Lawyers.
Having originally set their sights on Cronulla, Shine have confirmed that Dank will also be added as a defendant in the lawsuit.
James Chrara, NSW general manager of Shine Lawyers, is representing all three of the former players in their bid to seek compensation for damages to their health and reputation, and has demanded to see any documents, correspondence, images or medical records Dank has in relation to the 2011 program.
A summons was filed against Dank in the District Court on December 23, while on January 23 judicial registrar James Howard gave Dank 14 days to cooperate and hand over relevant documents or risk being charged with contempt, which can incur a penalty ranging from a fine to jail time.
Dank is yet to cooperate or appeal against the court order, and still hasn’t met with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority despite several interview requests over the past 12 months.
‘‘It is a privilege for Shine Lawyers to act for Broderick, Isaac and Josh in relation to their claims and right the wrongs committed by the Cronulla club and others,’’ Chrara said. ‘‘The orders obtained for discovery are the first step in shedding light on the illicit supplement program and exposing what these vulnerable players were subjected to back in 2011. This legal action should serve as a wake-up call for all sporting bodies that their overriding duty is to protect the health and welfare of all players and staff within their organisations.’’
Wright, a Parramatta junior who joined the Sharks in 2010, played 27 games for the club in a two-year stint in the Shire. He joined Cronulla with Cordoba in 2010, the same year Gordon made his first-grade debut.
Wright, who now works as a real estate agent, complained of stomach problems during the program. An independent investigation later revealed that players were given peptides CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 in the form of injections, then creams and tablets.
Gordon experienced the most severe side effects, suffering a mysterious blood-thinning disorder that left him with severe bruising from the ankle to the groin of one leg that was also tested for cancer.
He was informed by then club doctor David Givney after suffering a cork in the round 10 game against the Sydney Roosters in 2011 that his blood ‘‘was so thin that if I had copped a knock to the head I could’ve died on the field’’.
The independent investigation also found that Gordon was advised to take BB Formula, which is traditionally used on racehorses, to help increase his body mass.