Rugby league?s king sized headache receded slightly today, with an internal NRL inquiry clearing clubs of a number of misconduct allegations.
Interim findings of a broad investigation conducted by former Chief of Detectives Ken Bowditch, concluded there was ?no evidence? to substantiate allegations of Bulldogs players engaging in misbehaviour towards females or brawls at Coffs Harbour?s Plantation Night Club last month.
Emerging from a marathon NRL board meeting, where Bowditch?s 50 page dossier was tabled, CEO David Gallop stressed: "There are still areas of the investigation to complete and the NRL has not ruled out re-examining any issue on the basis of new evidence."
The report also cleared Roosters players allegedly involved in misconduct on a Shoal Bay beach.
Gallop said that the completed version of the report would not touch upon matters currently subject to police investigations, namely rape claims against up to six Bulldogs and two Melbourne Storm players.
In the meantime, the NRL has elected to heed legal advice presented at today?s meeting recommending it to refrain from issuing sanctions against either club until police investigations are completed.
Consequently, there will be no immediate action regarding the rape claims or statements made by Bulldogs players in a Sydney newspaper last weekend that implied group sex was simply part of the codes? culture. The NRL?s legal advice stated that a determination on either point could prejudice further proceedings.
"I acknowledge and share the frustration some people may feel in wanting to see penalties imposed," Mr Gallop said. "We are however in relation to the Bulldogs and the Storm talking about matters of the greatest seriousness. "We are not the police and can't pretend to second guess their investigations. "I trust that they are doing everything in their power to ensure that this matter is being dealt with as speedily as possible. The red letter meeting also determined that incumbent Australian Test captain, Darren Lockyer, would not be penalised for yesterday?s remarks regarding the rape scandal. Before a packed public function in Brisbane, Lockyer joked: ?St George, they one 11 premierships with one Raper. Imagine how many Canterbury will win.?
Despite the comment?s offensive nature, the board decided that the immediacy and nature of Lockyer?s apology should relieve him of sanction.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of the past fortnight?s unsavoury publicity, the NRL also announced the appointment of prominent female academic Catharine Lumby to its Education and Welfare Committee.
An associate professor at Sydney University and gender studies expert, Lumby has been recruited to ensure ?all perspectives? are taken into account in deciding education and welfare policy. The Committee has been recommended to review all materials relating to community standards, sexual discrimination harassment, and racial vilification in ?the wake of recent events?.