By STEVE MASCORD
AUSTRALIA and Melbourne fullback Billy Slater says he was woken by testers from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Commission in London on Tuesday night and required to submit to a drugs test.
There is no suggestion the test was anything other than random but the news comes amid growing tensions over the progress of the Australian Crime Commission’s investigation into doping, match fixing and organised crime in rugby league.
““I had the ASADA team knock on my door the first night I was in London, they got us up for a bit of a test,” Slater said before training at the Harrow School in preparation for next Friday’s World Club Challenge against Leeds at Headingley.
“…if there are people pushing the boundaries or going over those boundaries, they’ll get caught
out sooner or later.”Slater, team-mate Ryan Hoffman and coach Craig Bellamy each spoke out – to varying degrees – against the aspersions cast on all NRL players by the doping allegations, which are so far non-specific in nature.
Slater said: ““It’s very damaging for individuals and also the whole culture in Australian sport. No-one’s been found guilty of anything, it’s just been speculation. Everyone’s been thrown in the same boat.
“That’s the most disappointing thing, I find, regarding the whole situation.”
Bellamy added: “Most people have got the same opinion. They’ve come out and obviously said a few things and until it gets sorted out, everyone’s tarred with the same brush.
“I think, like everyone else, I would have preferred them come out and actually name people and name teams and investigate it from there but that hasn’t happened and I’m not actually sure where it all is at the moment.”.
Hoffman commented: “I think it’s quite disappointing (to) t me as a player, and we as a code of rugby league… the government, all they’ve said is they’re looking at people. They haven’t said there’s a massive problem in rugby league. Nothing’s really come out from it.
“I’ve always been confident that we at the Melbourne Storm, we don’t have a drug problem. I’m very confident in the NRL we don’t have a drug problem. You might have a couple of apples that spoil the barrel but we play the game fairly and the NRL has got good integrity in that regard.
“We, as players, would have liked it to have been handled differently but it wasn’t. All we can rely on is our reputations and know what we believe and I know the players I play with and what they do.”
London traffic played chaos with the Storm’s preparation yesterday, with their arrival in Harrow delayed for an hour for an opposed session against the London academy squad.
London Broncos coach Tony Rea and Australian imports Craig Gower, Chris Bailey and Shane Rodney looked on as a ballwork sessions was followed by a gruelling game of “grab” as Bellamy barked orders and GPS vests kept track of selected players.
Slater, who missed the All Stars game due a lack of match fitness caused by an off-season ankle injury, showed no signs of being restricted.
The Storm shift base to Leeds over the weekend.
Bellamy and members of his staff spent Valentines Night West End musical, the Bodyguard. “We forgot about Valentines Day and struggled to get a table – there were balloons and flowers everywhere,” Bellamy said.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD