A year-long Federal Government investigation has found widespread use of banned drugs in Australian professional sport and links with organised crime.
The Australian Crime Commission 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.
It said the links may have resulted in match-fixing and fraudulent manipulation of betting markets.
The key findings of the investigation identified widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs in professional sport.
It said that in some cases players were being administered with substances that have not yet been approved for human use.
The ACC also identified organised crime identities and groups that were involved in the distribution of PIEDS (Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs), to athletes and professional sports stars.
The ACC report noted increasing evidence of personal relationships of concern between professional athletes and organised criminal identities and groups.
“The ACC has found that professional sport in Australia is highly vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime. Multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having used peptides,” Justice Minister Jason Clare said in a statement.
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 willingness to administer substances to elite athletes which are untested or not yet approved for human use.
The ACC said illicit drug use by professional athletes was more prevalent than had been indicated by sports drugs testing programs.
The Australian Federal Government is taking this report extremely seriously. We just caught a few minutes of coverage from a media conference convened by Justice Minister Jason Clare and Sports Minister Kate Lundy, and they paint a grim picture; read on:
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy said the Government was moving to introduce tough new measures to crack down on the use of banned drugs and unethical behaviour in sport.
“Today is about the integrity of sport in Australia,” Senator Lundy said.
“... If you want to dope and cheat, we will catch you. If you want to fix a match, we will catch you. And as you can see by the investigations that have taken place, that we are well on the way to seeking out and hunting down those who will dope and cheat.”
Senator Lundy has introduced legislation this week to strengthen ASADA's investigative powers and double its investigative resources.
“If persons of interest refuse to co-operate with ASADA investigations they will be liable for civil penalties,” she said.
Among the sports and organisations under the microscope are the AFL, NRL, A-League, Football Federation of Australia, Cricket Australia and the Australia Rugby Union. The allegations being made are serious, and without doubt there is going to be an abundance of coverage over coming days and weeks.
Given that New Zealand teams participate in a number of Australian professional competititons, the allegations may well include New Zealand players and teams. If they are found to have acted illegally or unethically, they must face the consequences.
The full ACC report can be viewed here. It makes sobering reading to the serious sports fan.