ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Illawarra rugby league manager Chris Bannerman does not believe there are issues with performance-enhancing drugs in the Coal League, after ASADA officials attended last Saturday's minor semi-final at Dapto Showground.
Two players from both Collegians and Wests were selected to undergo random tests after the match won 32-18 by Wests.
Dragons NYC squad member Dylan Lauri, who played a number of games for Wests earlier this season, was stood down by the Dragons in July after returning a positive test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone; though the tests were not conducted at a Coal League fixture.
Bannerman said ASADA's appearance wasn't targeting the Coal League but it was a "first" for the competition.
"You can never be certain, individuals will always make choices, but I certainly don't think we could say it's [illegal drugs] widespread across this competition or any sort of regional competition outside of elite levels or even within elite levels," he said.
"I certainly don't think there's any major problem that needs addressing. We're told it was completely random and there's no reason not to believe that.
"Given we had an issue earlier in the year with a player who had played a number of games in the Illawarra Coal League and was contracted to the Dragons NYC, I wasn't completely surprised.
"We always knew it was a possibility because the question was raised at the time and it was confirmed then that they could turn up under our obligations being affiliated with the CRL.
"There could be a follow-up protocol put in place once there is a positive test in the region, which there has been."
Bannerman said that, while such tests were a rarity, the league is obligated to comply with ASADA testing procedures as an affiliate of the Country Rugby League.
He said the officials turned up unexpectedly but they are entitled to do so under the WADA code.
"When they arrived, I liaised with them about what was required," Bannerman said.
"They went through a process where a number of representatives pick a number of cards at random.
"There were two players tested from each club, Wests and Collegians, and that happened immediately after the game.
"I think it'll be at least a few weeks before any results are known."