James Segeyaro fronted his first meeting with ASADA on Thursday and gave investigators a detailed account of why his doping charge is a mistake.
James Segeyaro fronted his first meeting with ASADA on Thursday and gave investigators a detailed account of why his doping charge is a mistake.

Bronco Segeyaro tells ASADA he’s no drug cheat

James Segeyaro has told anti-doping authorities he did not attempt to deliberately "cheat the system" as the former Broncos hooker fights to clear his name and save his NRL career.

On Thursday Segeyaro underwent a three-and-a-half hour probe from two investigators from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in the first step to fighting a possible doping ban after returning an adverse analytical finding for Ligandrol.

ASADA officials would have got a shock when Segeyaro fronted the meeting in Brisbane's CBD dressed not in a suit and tie but a black AC/DC shirt which suggested he was headed for a rock concert at Suncorp Stadium.

But despite his lawyer's instruction to remove his cap, there was nothing sloppy about Segeyaro's testimony as he delivered an "honest" and "detailed" account of the reasons for his positive result last month which triggered a provisional suspension.

Segeyaro certainly stood out at the meeting. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
Segeyaro certainly stood out at the meeting. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

 

 

Segeyaro, who turns 29 on Sunday, is facing a four-year ban if the ASADA inquiry recommends a doping rule violation to the NRL's anti-doping tribunal, but his legal representative Tim Fuller is adamant the NRL veteran is not a drug cheat.

"James maintains his innocence with the investigators, 100 per cent," said Fuller of Gadens Lawyers.

"James made it clear he was not trying to circumvent or cheat the system.

"He did not knowingly ingest any prohibited substance, including Ligandrol, and his defence will centre on that.

"There was no significant fault and no significant negligence.

"At this stage of the process, ASADA is in the investigative phase and James has not committed an anti-doping rule violation."

 

 

His stint with Brisbane suggested Segeyaro still has plenty to offer the game. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
His stint with Brisbane suggested Segeyaro still has plenty to offer the game. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

An experienced sports lawyer, Fuller described the investigation as a "fair and transparent interviewing process" and emphasised that Segeyaro was open and honest with ASADA officials.

"James provided total co-operation and substantial assistance to the investigators," he said.

"By providing substantial assistance early on, an athlete can mitigate any potential sanction later on.

"I have been to similar anti-doping interviews and the thing that struck me with James from the outset was how forthright he was and how completely transparent he was.

"He looked the investigators in the eye and provided precise information with considerable detail.

 

The former Panther has already spent too long on the sidelines. Photo: Mark Evans
The former Panther has already spent too long on the sidelines. Photo: Mark Evans

 

 

"In James' case he has only ever used products from the Broncos and from Body Science, that has been his supplier for years.

"He has never sourced or used supplements from any other avenue.

"How the substance entered his system will be argued and contested. James will argue that he was not at significant fault nor negligent which is an important plank in his defence throughout this process.

"The information James presented was quite compelling.

"The evidence shows there is nothing to indicate use of Ligandrol or any other prohibited substance with Broncos players, so that's also good news for the Brisbane club."

 

 

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As part of the structured ASADA process, Segeyaro will receive a show-cause notice from the anti-doping watchdog.

Fuller said if Segeyaro was sanctioned with the maximum ineligibility period of four years, he would fight tooth and nail to have it downgraded.

The PNG international is currently without a club after the Broncos opted not to offer him a contract extension for the 2020 season.

"We expect James to either be cleared or have a significant reduction in any suspension period," Fuller said.

"James is in good spirits. He was really happy with the meeting, the ASADA officials probed and prodded and he explained every transcribed conversation in clear terms.

"The investigation process is continuing. We have impressed on ASADA that time is of the essence because he is off-contract now and keen for some clarity on his future."