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“Blackest Day”: World Rot In Sport Blights Australia …

  • February 8th, 2013
  • Posted by 7thmin

sports-fans.jpgCOMMENTARY: Shock and distaste has followed the revelation, 7.2.13, of widespread doping in Australian sport with penetration by organised crime.

CRIME COMMISSION FINDINGS

The federal government released a report on a one-year operation by the Australian Crime Commission, a statutory investigatory body with coercive powers, which said:

  • it had identified widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs in professional sport;
  • it had found that this use was facilitated by sports scientists, high-performance coaches and sports staff;
  • some players were being administered with substances not yet approved for human use;
  • and organised crime identities and groups had been distributing of the illegal substances to athletes and professional sports staff.

GAPS IN THE STORY; ANXIETY

The government announced that findings had been passed on to police, and it would deploy new legal measures to attack the problem.

Australia has seen many sports rorts in the past, but this disclosure by public law and order authorities, and also peak national sporting organisations, in concert, was on the greatest scale.

Anxiety in the community was not allayed by the withholding of details while police work went ahead.

Which teams? Which favourite sons or daughters? Which heroes?

Executives from the most popular elite sports competitions, like the National Rugby League (where the Manly and Penrith clubs have started an inventory of supplements use), or the Cricket (where denials began to flow like Rupees), lined up to support an urgent drive for reform; in Melbourne the Essendon Australian Football club had already come forward with information that several of its players had been involved in substance use.

sports-announce-7213.jpgThe key place of sports in Australia culture, and a national reputation to date for generally clean practices, was not wasted on the government leaders and officials who spoke on Thursday, (see picture – announcement).

They said cases had come to light of whole teams being exposed to doping.

LAMENTS

The Justice Minister, Jason Clare, lamented that on the evidence obtained, “professional sport in Australia is highly vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime”.

“This is the blackest day in Australian sport”, said Richard Ings, a former head of the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA), generating the headline of the day.

Match fixing has been included in the catalogue of offences, highlighting the international character of the threat of sports doping, gambling, and organised crime.

The revelations came two days after Europol lifted the lid on corruption in  European and world-wide Football, (see EUAustralia Online, “Crooks assault on world football”, 5.2.13), and followed the Lance Armstrong – Cycling crisis last december, (see EUAustralia Online, “Fall of Lance Armstrong …”, 17.12.12).

The President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, an Australian, called the developments of the day “alarming”, and said the sporting bodies needed to act on their undertakings to make a clean-up.

”The organisations themselves have to ask a lot of these questions of themselves”, he said.

COMMENTARY

Public conversations immediately turned to the chances of at least amending or moderating an entire sports culture; of win-at-all-costs; astounding feats of athleticism performed near-routine; gambling advertisements and “odds commentators” on games on television watched by children; “exotic” bets, on a kick or an Over, legally available on the phone; out-and-out criminals, many foreign-based, calling the tune on fixing of matches.

The focus of change might be the actual health and welfare of players, given the money and other temptations dangled before their eyes; more education for the players, less acting like putty in the hands of officials. There is talk also of a reality check in a world were sophisticated drugs and doping are moving close to normal; prohibition has its limits; a viable regime of regulation, transparency and accountability should be thought of now, world-wide.
FULL STATEMENT FROM MINISTERS

The following is the full statement issued by the Justice Minister, Jason Clare, and Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, in Canberra.


Organised crime and drugs in sport

The Australian Crime Commission today released the findings of a 12-month investigation into the integrity of Australian sport and the relationship between professional sporting bodies, prohibited substances and organised crime.

In response the Gillard Government together with Australia’s major professional sports have announced tough new measures to crack down on the use of performance enhancing drugs and unethical behaviour in sport.

The Australian Crime Commission investigation (codenamed Project Aperio) was supported by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Four key areas were examined:

•    The market for Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs)

•    The involvement of organised criminal identities and groups in the distribution of new generation PIEDs

•    The use of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited substances by professional athletes in Australia

•    Current threats to the integrity of professional sport in Australia.

Key findings

The investigation identified widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs in professional sport.

It also found that this use has been facilitated by sports scientists, high-performance coaches and sports staff.

In some cases, players are being administered with substances that have not yet been approved for human use.

The ACC also identified organised crime identities and groups that are involved in the distribution of PIEDs to athletes and professional sports staff.

The ACC report notes increasing evidence of personal relationships of concern between professional athletes and organised criminal identities and groups. This may have resulted in match fixing and the fraudulent manipulation of betting markets.

“The Australian Crime Commission has found that professional sport in Australia is highly vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime,” Mr Clare said.

“Multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, potentially constituting anti-doping rule violations. Officials from clubs have also been identified as administering, via injections and intravenous drips, a variety of substances.”

The report concluded that some coaches, sports scientists and support staff of elite athletes have orchestrated and/or condoned the use of prohibited substances. Some sports scientists have indicated a preparedness to administer substances to elite athletes which are untested or not yet approved for human use.

The Australian Crime Commission also found that illicit drug use by professional athletes is more prevalent than previously indicated in official sports drug testing program statistics.

The work the Australian Crime Commission has done has confirmed that organised crime has a tangible and expanding role in the provision of prohibited substances to professional athletes, and this is facilitated by some coaches and support staff.

The Australian Crime Commission has referred its findings in relation to suspected criminal activity to relevant law enforcement agencies including the Australian Federal Police and all State and Territory Police Forces.

ASADA and other regulatory agencies will undertake additional investigations on the basis of the Crime Commission findings.

Response

Responding to the report Senator Lundy said all sports have committed to work with the Government, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and law enforcement agencies to restore community confidence in sport.

“This week the Government introduced legislation to strengthen ASADA’s powers to enable the full and unhindered investigation of these issues,” Senator Lundy said.

“If persons of interest refuse to cooperate with ASADA investigations they will be liable for civil penalties.

“To support these new powers I have doubled the investigative resources at ASADA to ensure athletes and support staff who are involved in unethical behaviour will be scrutinised.

“In addition, I will be discussing with State and Territory Sports Minister’s measures which we can implement to further strengthen the National Integrity of Sport Unit.”

Senator Lundy issued a warning to sports administrators, medical officers, support staff and athletes that staying silent is no longer an option.

Australia’s major professional sports are equally as committed to stamp out doping and will:

•    Establish integrity units to deal with doping, betting and ethical issues within each sport;

•    Cooperate fully with ASADA and law enforcement agencies in a joint investigation;

•    Call on their athletes to come forward, own up and co-operate with investigators to possibly reduce sanctions;

•    Enact a multi-code policy to share information and implement doping sanctions across codes; and

•    Have zero tolerance for any support staff who are involved in peddling inappropriate substances and assurances that they will not be employed by other codes.

All members of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) have received confidential, classified briefings.

The Australian Government is proud to provide almost $13 million annually to ASADA to assist them in their fight against doping in sport.

The Australian Crime Commission report Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport can be found at www.crimecommission.gov.au


Reference

Australian Crime Commission, (home), Canberra. http://www.crimecommission.gov.au/, (7.2.13).

Jason Clare , Cabinet Secretary, Minister for Home ASffairs, Minister for Justice; Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation;
“Organised crime and drugs in sport”, Canberra, 7.2.13. http://www.katelundy.com.au/2013/02/07/organised-crime-and-drugs-in-sport/, (7.2.13).

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