Updated: 03/20/2013 11:45 | By Agence France-Presse

Australia anti-doping unit to interview 30 rugby players

Anti-doping authorities Wednesday said they wanted to interview 30 players from the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) as part of a wide-ranging probe into drug use in sport.

Australia anti-doping unit to interview 30 rugby players

Australia anti-doping unit to interview 30 rugby players

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) advised the NRL that it had completed the initial phase of its investigation and wanted to speak with "players who may be able to assist with further information".

ASADA has been probing six NRL clubs since early last month -- North Queensland, Penrith, Canberra, Newcastle, Manly and Cronulla -- after they were mentioned in an Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report.

The ACC report found that use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs was common across multiple sporting codes, sending shockwaves through Australia.

Rugby league officials said the interviews would be conducted over the next four to six weeks and stressed it did not necessarily mean a person spoken to was guilty.

"ASADA has made it clear that we are not looking at orchestrated issues involving a number of clubs," NRL chief executive Dave Smith said in a statement.

"Their inquiries are focusing more towards a number of individuals who have acted independently.

"People need to remember that ASADA is still in an investigative stage and at this point we are not talking about any breach having been established nor any players or officials being charged."

He added that the NRL would not suspend any player until there was sufficient evidence against them.

ASADA welcomed the NRL's commitment to cooperate with its investigation.

"ASADA is unable to talk publicly about the specifics of its investigation until such time as its legislation permits," it said.

"This ensures the integrity of the investigation and the privacy of any individual under investigation is protected."

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