The Cronulla Sharks have released Ben Barba immediately after he tested positive to cocaine use after a historic grand final victory.
Barba was suspended for 12 matches after returning a second positive sample. But that suspension will start when Barba is ready to return to the game. Head of the NRL integrity unit Nick Weeks said in a statement “The League will continue to extend support to Ben Barba but this should serve as a warning to all players of one of the potential consequences of using illicit drugs.”
Barba gave the following response in a statement:
“I know and accept I need to take some time away from the game to deal with some personal issues. I am accountable for myself and my actions and if I don’t address them now I will certainly ruin my career and more importantly my life and that of my family. As footballers we often find it hard to speak up about having problems, but this decision has lifted so much pressure off myself that I cannot start to explain just how much better I feel by taking this action.”
“I hope to return to the game at some stage and am very grateful for the support of the Cronulla Sharks and I hope that one day I can again play beside this terrific bunch of guys. I have made some tremendous friendships both within the playing ranks and throughout the coaching and administration teams. This has made it all the more difficult to make this decision but it’s something I just had to do.”
Club CEO Lyall Gorman said “This is an incredibly difficult situation for Barba, his family and our Club and all involved with it. Mr Gorman has asked that this is a private matter that Barba needs to deal with. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of Ben Barba from the Cronulla Sharks Facebook page.