CRONULLA will take the field against the Titans on Sunday despite uncertainty over the immediate playing future of as many as 14 Sharks players.
Reports suggested the players had been advised by lawyer Richard Redman, a former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency senior counsel who has been hired by Cronulla, to accept six month bans rather than risk being found guilty of doping and being suspended for a mandatory two years.
That led to a firestorm of suggestions about not only the future of the players in question, but even the club itself.
While nothing was forthcoming from the Sharks board, on Thursday NRL chief executive David Smith laid to rest any suggestion the match against the Titans could be called off.
"With the season kick-off just hours away we accept that the ongoing speculation around the ASADA investigation is causing incredible uncertainty for many in the game, particularly right now for Cronulla and its fans," Smith said.
"As I have said from day one, the NRL is taking the ASADA investigation very seriously.
"It is an investigation that must be allowed to run its course and it is inappropriate for us to enter into speculation about what may be taking place.
"Let me make it very clear, however, the absolute majority of our players - the absolute majority - are doing the right thing. They are great ambassadors for the game, on and off the field."
The key issue for Cronulla is whether supplements taken by players in 2011, and possibly afterwards, contained peptides that are now on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.
The period in question co-incided with an 11-week consultancy by controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank before club doctor David Giveny intervened and terminated Dank's involvement.
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