OFFICIALS from the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority will next week begin interviewing 31 NRL players as the investigation into doping in the sport takes an important step forward.
Ten former players are also required to appear.
While ARL Commission chairman John Grant yesterday said there was no place in the game for drug cheats, NRL chief executive Dave Smith stressed just because players had been identified by ASADA did not mean they were guilty or would be charged.
"It is the NRL's strong view that no one should be pre-judged and we will not stand down any player until there is sufficient evidence for an infraction notice to be issued," Smith said.
"The NRL will not name players or their clubs."
Smith also said that other than the alleged systematic doping practices being investigated at the Sharks, ASADA had shifted its focus towards individuals, rather than clubs.
"ASADA has informed the NRL that aside from the well-documented concerns at Cronulla, its clear focus is now on whether individuals or groups of individuals may have acted outside club programs," he said.
"This is not about clubs."
Smith also said the interview process was likely to take four to six weeks, with the information then needing to be assessed.
Meanwhile reports emerged yesterday that the Sharks could lose representative five-eighth Todd Carney as a result of the club being embroiled in the scandal.
Carney had been poised to extend his contract at the Sharks, but is now believed to be considering his options with the Dragons, Panthers, Titans and Warriors among the clubs chasing his signature.
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