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17 National Rugby League players receive ASADA notices over illegal supplements from 2011

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SYDNEY - The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority began issuing notices Wednesday to 17 current and former National Rugby League players from the Cronulla Sharks over the use of illegal supplements during the 2011 season.

ASADA said in a statement that the "show cause" notices were issued in relation to the use of prohibited substances CJC-1295 and GHRP-6, both growth-stimulating peptides banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, based on evidence collected during a 16-month investigation.

Show-cause notices ask potential offenders to explain why they should not be served with infraction notices over alleged breaches. Those breaches carry penalties of up to two years, but could be reduced to six months for those who provide "substantial assistance" to ASADA.

The players will have 10 days to respond and have the option to challenge the notices.

In June, ASADA issued similar violations to 34 current or former Essendon players in the Australian Football League involving the same banned peptides.

The banned substances were reported to be ingredients in supplements given to the team's players at the suggestion of a sports scientist hired by the team. Both Essendon and Cronulla players have denied they knew the supplements were in violation of WADA's doping rules.

The AFL and NRL have already suspended some officials and coaches from both teams.

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen, one of the players involved, told a Sydney radio station on Wednesday that he's concerned that by accepting reduced bans, they'll be treated as drug cheats.

"It's (our reputation) tarnished now already, but no matter what, if we do this we're going to be labeled a drug cheat," he said.

"It's a tough situation to be in. Our mind and our mood changes every 10 minutes ... closure on this thing would just be unbelievable (after) what we've gone through the past two seasons."

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