Bob Abbott, a founding administrator of Cronulla, said other officials would be “weeping tears of blood” over the club’s handling of the drug allegations being aimed against the Sharks.
Abbott, a long-term official at the Sharks who was at the club in its first season in the NSWRL premiership in 1967, maintained that, in the wake of the standing down of coach Shane Flanagan and the sacking of four other staff, the club’s current board had been “bulldozed by the authorities into making decisions that were not warranted at this stage”.
“Until someone has been proven to have been taking illicit drugs . . .
they should have allowed everything to go through until such time as some decisions are made by the authorities as to whether anyone is proven guilty or innocent,” Abbott said.
“I’m totally disappointed with the decisions made by the board. I think that they made them without really studying or understanding the situation. I haven’t heard anybody say that any player or any coach involved at Cronulla has been involved in any drug-taking whatsoever.
It’s all assumed that that may have happened.
“But from what I’ve seen, they’ve got nothing definite on anybody at the moment. There’s no decision been made by anybody that anyone has been taking drugs. If they have, I’d have no hesitation in fully supporting their demise from the game. But as it stands, I think the club has been railroaded a little bit by ASADA people.” Abbott said that current club officials had made “irresponsible statements and taken irrensponsible actions and they’ve denigrated and demonised people . . . the integrity of some of those people has been shattered”.
“What concerns me is there seem to have been some decisions made ad-hoc, without a really common sense approach to the whole situation,” Abbott said. “When I listen to the players, it seems that they are adamant, and the coaches are adamant, that they bear no responsibility whatsoever to what’s being laid against them.
“All the stress that’s been placed on these players, without anybody saying exactly what has happened to them or what they are supposed to have done . . . they should be innocent in the eyes of everybody until such time as someone proves something. If they do, and it’s proven, well and good, goodbye, you’re out. But we’re not that stage.” Abbott, who faxed Flanagan every Monday with praise or occasionally advice before the coach was stood down by Sharks pending a club investigation into the use of performance enhancing substances in the 2011 season, described the sidelined official as a “good coach and a man of integrity”.
“I feel terribly sorry for Shane Flanagan,” Abbott said. “He can hold his head high.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.