Cronulla players have reportedly sought legal advice as the club's 2013 campaign sits on the brink of collapse amid reports ASADA has recommended up to 14 players be stood down for using performance enhancing drugs.
The Cronulla board met away from their leagues club at a secret location on Wednesday night to discuss the implications of ASADA's findings, which are believed to surround the use of peptides in 2011 when controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank was at the club.
The peptides were not illegal when first introduced but were later placed on the banned list.
It's alleged some players defied the ban and continued to use them.
The players have reportedly been offered six-month bans up front if they plead guilty but could be outed for two years if they fight the allegations and fail to prove their innocence.
When that scenario was put to a Sharks insider on Wednesday night, he told Sportal: "All that is feasible.
"We are hoping for the best but it could turn into a nightmare."
Officially, Cronulla are saying very little about the matter with coach Shane Flanagan and officials uncontactable on Wednesday.
Betting agencies across Australia suspended betting on Sunday's Cronulla-Gold Coast clash until more information came to light.
Cronulla put out a statement at 6.02pm which read: "Sharks fans and all rugby league supporters can be assured the club has been very proactive in fully cooperating with ASADA and taking other measures that prioritise the integrity of our club and the welfare of our playing group.
"While there are strict boundaries around what we can say while the ASADA investigation is ongoing, fans should be assured that as soon as there is an opportunity to provide further information we will do so."
A Sharks spokesman added: "It's business as usual. It's all speculation at this stage."
The spokesman said the decision to shut the media out from training on Wednesday and to pull players from a promotional meet and greet on Thursday was to avoid adding to the drama.
"Flanno (Flanagan) didn't want the players distracted by having to talk about something they know nothing about," he said.
The Sharks were to head into the season as one of the premiership favourites after adding Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan, Jono Wright and Michael Gordon to their roster.
But the dream of that elusive first premiership would now appear in tatters.
The NRL is yet to comment or confirm the status of Cronulla's season opener against the Titans.