Doping expert compares Bronson Xerri to Ben Johnson as NRL players query ASADA delay
A six-month delay in the notification process of Bronson Xerri's positive sample has been questioned by former Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen, and now NRL veteran James Graham.
On Tuesday the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) notified the NRL and Cronulla that Xerri tested positive to banned performance-enhancing drugs back in November.
One doping expert, speaking anonymously to The Sydney Morning Herald, described the alleged drug cocktail as "Ben Johnson in the late 1980s bad". One substance to which Xerri tested positive, exogenous testosterone, has been prohibited from the Olympics since 1976 and the Sharks flyer is now facing a four-year ban.
Yet just two days out from the NRL season restart, questions have been raised over why it took so long to return a result. So far, ASADA has refused to respond to requests for an explanation.
Gallen, who was at the Sharks during the 2011 peptides scandal and was one of 10 players stood down by ASADA in 2014, accused the body of chasing headlines and said the situation should have been dealt with in November when the positive sample was given.
The timeline is also confusing for Dragons prop Graham, who said he could not understand why ASADA would let an athlete with a positive sample potentially play for six months.
"Personally, I've probably got more questions for ASADA than I do Bronson Xerri at the moment," Graham said on NRL 360.
"I'm struggling to get my head around how they let a player who has provided a positive test potentially play for six months.
"I'm dumbfounded for that. I'd have plenty of questions for ASADA."
Xerri missed the first two games of the NRL season but was a chance to play round two after recovering from shoulder surgery he had in October.
He was set to be named for the Sharks to play the Wests Tigers on Saturday.
Gallen says it could have created a duty of care problem if Xerri had played and hurt someone as an "enhanced" athlete before the positive sample was revealed.