NRL slammed over ‘abhorrent abuse of power’ over drug testing move

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The NRL has been slammed after four of the Roosters players incorrectly accused of wrongdoing over the weekend were target tested for drugs.

Over the weekend, social media users accused players of looking worse for wear in a live stream video on Terrell May’s Twitch account.

The video also included Brandon Smith, Zach Dockar-Clay, Naufahu Whyte and Spencer Leniu.

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But suggestions of any wrongdoing as a short clip began circulating on social media were quickly shut down by the Roosters in a statement on Tuesday.

Now the Sydney Morning Herald has reported the NRL tested four of the players who were falsely accused of taking illicit substances at Roosters training on Tuesday.

Rugby League Players Association boss Clint Newton slammed the NRL’s for overreaching.

“It’s an abhorrent abuse of power,” Newton said. “The players opt into this policy. If this is the way it’s going to be rolled out, we’ll have a serious think about blowing it up. This is not the way it is intended to be used.

“Someone at the NRL needs to explain what the threshold of a target test is because that’s what this was.

“Anyone who says different may as well change their name to Pinocchio.”

The NRL illicit drugs policy isn’t the same as the WADA code, which tests for performance-enhancing drugs on game day.

However, players can be target tested if the NRL gets information a player may have used drugs during the season.

While the RLPA hit out the NRL’s move, The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie told Fox Sports’ NRL Tonight such moves may be necessary to ensure a “clean game”.

“I think it’s fair,” Ritchie said. “Perhaps the players think they’ve been targeted, maybe that is a fair comment.

“But if the drug testers want to go and drug test, I think we should applaud that. That’s what we want, we want a clean game.

“And anyone on a video who feels like they’ve been targeted the next day, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide and you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Earlier in the week, the Roosters had hit out at the social media accusations on Tuesday.

“The Sydney Roosters have been made aware of a small clip from a longer live stream that some on social media have claimed identifies behaviour that breaches NRL rules,” the club stated.

“The live stream in question was part of a transparent one-hour interaction with one of our player’s followers on the evening before the Club’s Round 11 match. The players who featured in the stream selected winners for several giveaways of jerseys, boots and caps. The players were fully aware they were being viewed by participants in the live stream.

“The clip reveals no use of illicit substances or any other breach of NRL rules, however some see fit to make that grossly distorted and clearly damaging claim.

“The Sydney Roosters uphold the highest standards of conduct and integrity, both on and off the field. Our players adhere to all NRL policies, including its rigorous drug testing and education programs.

“As a Club we remind those on social media that we take the defamatory statements some have made very seriously, and we are conducting a thorough investigation to identify the source(s) of several false accusations. Legal action will be pursued against those found responsible for spreading damaging and unsubstantiated claims.”

Roosters captain James Tedesco also weighed in, saying it was “not right” his teammates had been accused of any wrongdoing.

“It was the night before a game and I knew the boys were doing a giveaway on Twitch,” he said.

“Some people have come out assuming some silly things, but that’s not right for people to come out and assume things that they have no idea about.

“To get accused of something like that isn’t right.”

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