Chris Robshaw has branded Saracens cheats and says the Premiership and European champions have put rugby union in a “dangerous place” by breaching salary cap regulations.
Sarries were docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million on Tuesday for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the past three seasons.
The London club were sanctioned after Premiership Rugby launched an investigation following revelations that high-profile players had entered into investment or property partnerships with club owner Nigel Wray.
Sarries will appeal against the verdict and have denied any wrongdoing all along, but former England captain Robshaw says they have tarnished the reputation of the sport.
“It’s not great, the game that we loved is in the world eye. The pinnacle of English rugby is illegal,” the Harlequins skipper said.
“I think it puts our sport in a very dangerous place. We are a sport that always claimed to be whiter than white, we would look down on football and look down on this and that, we would say how it is, but we are like everyone else.
“Call it what you want. It is cheating. It is not a good situation for our sport to be in. It is not a thing we pride ourselves on.
“When you look at cheating in athletics, when you look at cheating in cycling, when you look at cheating in baseball – for us as a sport, we like to think our sport is cleaner and cleaner than everyone else.
“It is not anymore. It is not. We have to be realistic about that. As a sport we’ve got to take the damage that comes with that now. I am sure it will be like that for a while. It is not going to be easy for our sport to move forward.
“I know the World Cup didn’t finish as we would have liked but look at the high it brought the country. And now we got some damage control to do.”
Sarries could also be punished by European Professional Club Rugby after failing to attend a European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup launch in Cardiff on Wednesday.