ASADA want Mullen to rescue next generation
Jarrod Mullen has been asked to work for ASADA and use his tragic story to show other athletes the devestating impact of doping.
Mullen is serving a four-year ban for testing positive to banned steroid drostanolone in 2017, which effectively ended his NRL career.
It was revealed this week that the 31-year-old suffered a drug overdose at his parents' home in December and nearly lost his life.
Despite reports suggesting Mullen has been cast aside by the NRL, former club Newcastle and ASADA, CEO of the anti-doping watchdog David Sharpe has remained in regular contact with the one-time NSW Origin star.
Since taking over as ASADA boss in 2017, Sharpe has been committed to increasing education about doping.
Part of that process has been to use past and present athletes to speak to rising stars across all sport's about their experiences with ASADA.
Sharpe said telling Mullen's story was crucial to stopping the "next Jarrod Mullen" from destroying their career.
"It's a sad story,'' Sharpe said.
"But if you look at what happened in Jarrod's case, there's a guy who lost everything, in my view due to a poor decision originally.
"And you then look at where that has spiralled to since.
"That is a story we need to get out to kids.
"I know Jarrod has a lot of issues, but I've spoken very openly with him about these issues.
"He's got a lot of work to do, but I think since (December), he's taken a big step.''
Sharpe wants Mullen to speak to other athletes.
"A lot of people would probably criticise me, but absolutely I would,'' Sharpe said.
"If we don't have people like Jarrod, who when he goes through rehabilitation, to tell his story, we can't fully influence.
"Let's understand the consequences of people that have doped and what's happened, so we can use that information to go back and work out what we can do with the next up and coming Jarrod Mullen, to make a difference.
"If you don't have a Jarrod Mullen and others, in my view, you'll never get that right.
"Jarrod is a good example of someone who was brought into a (rugby league) system at age four - and know's nothing else in life.
"His whole life was committed to football. He went down certain pathways along the way which I'm sure he regrets now - in fact, I have no doubt he regrets it.
"But we've got to try and understand it.
"Because the more information, the more education, the more programs we can get out at lower levels, hopefully we'll start to understand the situation of Jarrod's and others.''
A criticism under the rules of an ASADA doping ban is that Mullen must have no contact with the Knights.
Those close to Mullen have suggested the isolation from his closest relationships and support structures have contributed to his most recent overdose.
Sharpe agreed that the rule needed to be looked at.
"People make poor decisions. But that doesn't make we shouldn't take some responsibility,'' Sharpe said.
"By 'we", I mean the NRL, Newcastle and ASADA.
"I believe we all have a duty that, yes he has been sanctioned - but it's not see you later.
"We're certainly looking at welfare issues, I know the club is looking at it and also the NRL have also been very good with supporting Jarrod to a point.
"We're working to understand how under Jarrod's rehabilation plan down the track, we can engage him.
"He's got to prove through a course of actions, that he's remorseful and ready to go and send a message (to others).
"I've had a lot of chats to Jarrod and he is desperate to get his message out. But he's got to sort his life out through rehabilitation.
"And we've got to be confident that Jarrod is ready to send the message.
"I believe we'll get there.''