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Bombshell sports probe: drugs and corruption to ‘disgust’ fans

Sports fans are bracing for the worst as sports and justice chiefs dropped a bombshell today: allegations of the widespread and systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs in Australian sport.

The Australian Crime Commission has dropped a bombshell on the future of the country’s favourite sporting codes, in a devastating report laying bare links between organised crime, professional clubs, sports scientists and scores of players.

The ball-tearing Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report, 12 months in the making and first foreshadowed by Crikey yesterday, demonstrates how widespread the market is among multiple players and multiple codes for so-called “performance and image enhancing drugs” (PIEDS), most of which are banned under national and international sporting codes.

The use of peptides (alleged to have been injected into some Essendon AFL players), hormones and illicit drugs is widespread across multiple major codes, despite being unproven for human consumption, the report finds.

And the use of drugs is making athletes vulnerable to corruption and match-fixing. Victorian Police said today there are already investigations underway into potential match-fixing.

In an unprecedented press conference this morning — fronted by six heads of the major sporting codes aligned to the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS), Justice Minister Jason Clare and Sports Minister Kate Lundy — journalists heard that organised crime syndicates, dodgy doctors and sketchy supplement advisers are all apparently involved in the vial orgy.

Clare laid down the law in a statement, branding the findings “shocking” and saying they will “disgust Australian sports fans. It’s cheating … with the help of criminals.” Lundy threatened to throw the book at any proven offenders: “If you want to cheat, we will catch you; if you want to fix a match we will catch you.”

The link with organised criminals and illicit drug importers — some involved in front companies with direct links to clubs — is widespread. The match fixing links, if true, could potentially devastate the multi-million dollar cash cows that inspire the passion of so much of the Australian population.

The report reveals that “multiple players across some sporting codes and specific clubs within those codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, which could constitute an anti-doping rule violation. The level of suspected use of peptides varies.” The report states:

There are clear parallels between what has been discovered in Australia and the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong, which underlines the transnational threat posed by doping to professional sport, both from a ‘fair play’ perspective and as a broader integrity issue …

The ACC has identified specific high-performance staff, sports scientists and coaches within some codes who have condoned and/or orchestrated the administration of prohibited substances, and substances not yet approved for human consumption, to players. In some cases, peptides and other substances were administered to players without them understanding the nature of the substances, and without the knowledge of the team doctor or club medical staff.”

The report also reveals:

  • Sports scientists and doctors are “experimenting” on elite athletes to determine if substances can improve performance
  • An instance of “team-based doping” at the hands of unnamed club officials and coaching staff
  • Officials from one club used injections and intravenous drips to dope players with a “variety of substances”, “possibly” including peptides
  • Links between professional athletes and organised crime identities in Australia.

COMPPS members — including the AFL, the ARL, the Australian Rugby Union and Cricket Australia — said in a statement they will create or build on their current integrity units in conjunction with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the National Integrity of Sports Unit. They vowed to work with governments and law enforcement agencies to protect sporting competitions from organised crime.

They agreed to toughen anti-doping policies and pledged a “zero tolerance approach to any person peddling or advocating the use of inappropriate substances”.

Above all, COMPPS’ member sports agree to be partners in this new serious effort to protect our sports from criminal infiltration — and preserve the integrity of our sporting landscape.”

Yesterday in the Senate, Lundy introduced a bill to double ASADA’s resources, strengthen its investigative powers and mandate that those who fail to co-operate with the body would receive civil penalties.

At the presser today a grave ACC chief John Lawler said he hoped information gleaned from players would lead to successful prosecutions, after it was flicked to state-based police forces. He rejected talk of “kingpins”, saying it was better to think of the problem as interwoven in the specific cultures and connections of the sport in question.

This morning The Age reported that a convicted drug trafficker with the moniker “Dr Ageless” had been supplying sacked Essendon sports scientist Steve Dank with potentially illegal substances.

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  • 1
    paddy
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    dodgy doctors and sketchy supplement advisers are all apparently involved in the vial orgy.

    LOl Mick the sub would be proud of you Andrew.
    BTW It’s a cracking good yarn.

  • 2
    WTF
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    But surely stripping Armstrong of his TDF wins fixed everything in every sport - ever. Or perhaps all professional sport is entertainment to generate revenue and has nothing to do with fairness and anyone who thinks otherwsie needs heir head examined. Na, there will be salivating all around for years until the IOC will waltzes in to save the day and offer a free Coke and McDonald’s vouches to anyone who believes that the Olympic movement is about fairness, love and unification of mankind and all that BS - nothing less. Ahhh yes they will also demand more billions from the government to keep their charade going!

  • 3
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I to watched the same press conference and shook my head in dismay.
    Not at their sudden enlightenment as to the obvious prevalence of drugs, but at the time it has taken them to identify the problem.
    It must be obvious from a cursory spectatorship of many of our ‘sporting heroes’ body builds that there is considerable more than weight lifting and gym work to their physical build. Our women tennis players are an obvious example.
    It is not just limited to football and bike riders but must be rife throughout most sports and applies to both genders.
    Records are constantly broken by ever increasing amounts and should give the people responsibe indications that something lacks credibility and is amiss without the assitance of some illegal assistance.
    Mindyou it will the athletes who will be punished, not the manufacturers and purveyors of the drugs.
    Nor will the media moguls be held to account, who make a fortune out of their exclusive coverage to develope advertising markets and will continue to do so with impunity.
    People like Murdoch and others will turn a blind eye and skulk behind the usual excuse that it is not their responsibility.
    It is these money gruber’s responsibility to, while they make the bulk of their money from professional sports and at the same time garner their advertising dollars from betting and gambling houses who have a history of corruption.

  • 4
    SBH
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    on the plus side - it’s only sport

  • 5
    MJPC
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”: where are the sporting “hero’s” now?

  • 6
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    The only disgust I can manage to summon up is the level to which our nation fawns over sportspeople.

    Now the scales drop from our eyes to witness an industry rife with physically-obsessed and physiologically-obsessed egomaniacs and cheats - geez, who would’ve guessed.

  • 7
    Zjonn
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Who would have ever guessed that facilitating and promoting gambling on all professional “sports” would have had any effect other than making it all more honest, geez, who would have thought of it, it seemed such a good idea and such easy riches for all!

  • 8
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    What about that unacccountable sporting prowess of a certain shifty LOTO? ????

  • 9
    Anthony
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    The fact that the AFL has only one reported positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 20 years of testing says it all. As cycling has found with the UCI, if the governing bodies are afraid of the financial impacts of positive tests they will look the other way. The AFL has become very vocal about recreational drugs yet has remained very quiet about PEDs. Despite peoples impression the most thorough testing regimes via blood passports are found in pro cycling. This just shows how far behind the other sports are. Cycling failed because the testing was under the control of the governing body. If any sport is to learn it is to separate the powers of testing from the general governance of the sport, they are the ones with the most to lose if things become murky. Are these sports involved in blood doping? Who would know? The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency conducts the random and target tests in Australian sports like the AFL but do they decide who to target or is it the governing bodies as is the case with the UCI?

  • 10
    GF50
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Hells bells! shock horror! Fair dinkum? Blind freddy knew betting was bound to inject integrity into general sport!Look at horse racing where a big noise spiv has his mum trainer recommending him!
    Money paid to the ill educated, overhyped, bimbos of Australia, believing all their own publicity? sense of fair play? All total crap! Now for the bloodport of all Australia,Politics! Don’t give us policies or rational thought follow the money! No need to cast a vote just put your money on the spivs all know.

  • 11
    michael crook
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    professional sport + gambling = corruption. Someone is surprised at this?

    How much for pitch conditions these days?

  • 12
    Liamj
    Posted Thursday, 7 February 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Any bets that taxpayers will have to fund regulation and testing to ‘restore faith’/bail out the crooked pony circus?

    Its just another market failure, jail the crooks and let the rest go broke; upside - it might even get the spectators off their arses. Commercialised/elite sport is contributing to making us less healthy.

  • 13
    MJPC
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I love this, we fawn over sport “stars” calling them “hero’s” and now the truth comes out and the media is aghast with shock and horror!
    Sports is just a microcosm of the general decline of society; anything is acceptable as long as there is money to be made.
    What is particularly galling is the sheer volume of money thrown at the major sporting codes, be it in grants or the cost for building and maintaining sports infrastructure (i.e. the Sydney Olympic infrastructure site, a true “white elephant”) and for this taxpayer largesse we are rewarded by learning that some players in the codes are not quite honest.
    Let’s see the codes supporting themselves and pull all taxpayer support, now that would make them squel.

  • 14
    Harry Rogers
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    All about 25 years too late. In this country Packer saw dollar bells ringing with World Series Cricket and played on the publics greed. Club managers and coaches being paid ridiculous sums of money.

    Way too late now its endemic just look at that teenagers who have been brought up to idolise these people. We as a society are to blame and unless there is a total mindset change you’re just pissing in the wind.

  • 15
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Just as well sport betting is not compulsory. Fools will continue to bet on sports rigged or not.

  • 16
    drmick
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    2 things here. Everything & i mean everything murduck touches is rotten. He makes it so if it wasnt before & acceleates it with funding,rule changes, complicit dodgy sportscasting & dodgy officials if it was dodgy to start with. Super league rugby league melbourne storm. I rest my case

    Mcdonalds hav sponsored funded supported nearly every athlete that has repreented australia for the last 4 olymplc games. In spite of targeted aggressive opposition their bottom line has grown every ysar since they hav been here

  • 17
    Michael Hilliard
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I’m with SBH. The performance enhances do nothing for their intellect, sorry but I cringe whenever I happen across an interview with some buff head bragging about how he bashed the living daylights out of another player to bring his team and the supporters victory. It’s win win at all costs with billions spent on it, reams of media devoted to it and for what? I only wish their was a quick drug fix for some important areas like the built & living environment. This revelation (if you could call it that) gets a big so what from me.

  • 18
    Spike
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    All sport should only be as was originally: AMATEUR only. Why pay billions to men/women just because they are skilled sportswise?. Then there’s the associated: Drs, physios, spin Drs, managers + myriad hangers on: reaping the taxpayers $’s via sport! Better to INVEST those billions into becoming a smarter, better educated + technologically more advanced Australia! Developing superior water pipelines, rail transport, roads education, hospitals + schools: few examples where sporting billions should be diverted into! Research + development: needs $’s, we’re slipping back + behind other nations! One radio quote this week: 20 BILLION spent on sport Aust, 2012…Hospital beds cut, waiting lists increase..This country has priorities wrong! Sport may be Australia’s major religion: won’t help us on the world stage including our SEAsia location.

  • 19
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Professional sport has been elevated to risible importance. In the past decade it’s not uncommon for a sporting story to lead the ABC radio news.

    Surely sport should be about the joy of exercise and the satisfaction of participation. And fair play - above all, fair play.

    These days unless you’re a winner you’re a nonentity - coming second is not an option. It’s jingoistic piffle which has reached epidemic proportions courtesy of indulgent sponsors.

  • 20
    revol ooshon
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Bubonic plague epidemic
    Australia-wide
    550 Deaths
    1900–1910
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Sinking of AHS Centaur off North Stradbroke Island, Queensland
    268 Deaths
    14 May 1943
    Hospital ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Japanese Air Raids
    Darwin
    1942
    243 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Bushfires
    Victoria
    173 Deaths
    February 2009
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Prison break
    Cowra
    238 Deaths
    5th August 1944
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Sea battle between HMAS Sydney and German Cruiser Kormoran
    Indian Ocean near Shark Bay
    19 November 1941
    727 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Rail Accident
    Granville
    18th January 1977
    83 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Earthquake
    Newcastle
    28 December 1989
    13 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Massacre
    Port Arthur
    July 1996
    35 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Two blackhawk helicopters down
    Townsville
    March 1996
    18 Deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    Terrorism
    Bali Indonesia
    12 October 2002
    88 Australian deaths
    - Not Australia’s blackest day

    couple dumb arse footy players on ‘roids
    Melbourne
    2013
    Australia’s blackest day

  • 21
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    REVOL OOSHON: Brilliant!

  • 22
    mikeb
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    @Mike Flanagan. “It must be obvious from a cursory spectatorship of many of our ‘sporting heroes’ body builds that there is considerable more than weight lifting and gym work to their physical build. Our women tennis players are an obvious example.”
    You can only be referring to one person here and this is a worrying aspect to me. Because of the lack of information at this early stage every sportsman, clean or dirty, are being tainted with the same brush. The media love a beat-up, and anti sports commentators jump into the fray tut-tutting their disapproval of sporting “heroes” and the hoi-polloi who follow them. If there is rampant cheating as suggested then give us the facts before launching into a frenzy of speculation.

  • 23
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Mikeb
    A little paranoia mate.
    I don’t think the Crime Commissioners and the Federal Police are chasing their tales!
    The recent reports of the fixing of games in the soccer competitions on an international scale point to a another area of corruption in professional sports.
    Sport was and is to be encouraged and the achievements of the best are to be applauded. But the three way mariage of sport, media moguls and gambling are destroying the essence and purpose of competitive sports and the public accolades of our finest achievers will

  • 24
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

     — - be silenced at this rate.
    Sport was a compulsory in my schooling days to develope and enhance our physical prowess and co-ordination that assisted in the intellectual development of the participant.
    Today it is about money, not so much for the competitor but for the media and gambling houses.
    As some one else posted, sport and gambling lead inevitaly to corruption.

  • 25
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    In fact I assert I had no one in particular in mind. Except to say I have witnessed spindley young fifteen year old be presented by the media as the upcoming heroes of their sport and low and behold two years later they have bulked up like sumo wrestlers and their voices have dropped by ten octaves.
    I spent a good period of my adult life assisting our young ones and youth to acquire acrobatic and circus skills. Some of them in their adult maturity are built like 44 gallon drums with eight packs, but to the best of my knowledge they never participated chemical enhancers that is becoming evident in the professional field of sports, that our media moguls and gambling dens have expropriated for the own money grubbing ambitions.
    Where ever the Murochs go, they usually leave a pile dietritrus behind for others to shovel up.

  • 26
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Andrew, this was a McTernan ploy to get Obied and Thomson off the front pages. It has failed, now World’s media are having a feeding frenzy on Australia. labor have damaged our reputation. If they have codes, teams and players they should make arrests, or SHUT UP and continue investigating until they do.

    Its was a Labor ploy.

  • 27
    phyllis stein
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    …I await the connection that makes it Julia Gillard’s fault. I’m not sure how it got into print without it.

  • 28
    mikeb
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    No Mike F. - you specifically used as an example our female tennis players. Now there is only one elite Australian female tennis player that you could possibly be referring to.
    You call it paranoia to be concerned with allegations of drug taking and cheating and match fixing being thrown around by people who know nothing about it. I say wait until the evidence is revealed before jumping to conclusions and smearing everyone.
    …and for what it’s worth I have no association with any sport associations apart from a child who competed at a high level at athletics. No money came my way mate.

  • 29
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Mikeb;
    “our” was intended in a broader context than it may convey.
    But I submit that if we waited for the media to carry out their function and inform us of the facts we will all be in suspense until we are nourishing daisey’s.
    Good luck to your offsprings endeavours and I wish them well, as they represent our future and the manifesto of our efforts.

  • 30
    Christopher Nagle
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    All this schlock horror is a bit nauseating, as if any of this was a big surprise!

    Modern professional sport has become so ‘totalitarian’ in its demands on athletes, it forces them to the absolute margins of human endurance and musculoskeletal performance boundaries in the pursuit of winning at absolutely any cost.

    This is being fed by absurd amounts of money being invested in top performers in a winners take all reality paradigm. It prematurely wears out and damages existing talent that has to keep fighting on regardless to stay in front of a relentless flow of new talent trying to topple them. And once they are compromised, their income and lifestyle will collapse and they will be has beens.

    Ordinary games are turned into gladiatorial combats where any advantage, no matter how small, has to be used to stay or get in the game.

    And the ‘bad boys and girls’ who get caught breaking the drug rules become the fall guys for a system that systematically drives them into that very behavior.

    But nobody dares to question anything below a certain level, because there is just too much money involved in the status quo; a charmed circle of sponsors, advertisers corporate apparatchiks and team administrators/coaches, who will keep driving this accelerating treadmill ever faster and harder until one day, for whatever reason, it can’t.

  • 31
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Chris Nagle;
    So very, very, but sadly, true!
    Big money and the top end of town have stolen the essence of sport and its intrinsic part of society and its’ development of past, present and upcoming generations.
    We never see discussed the aesthetics of sport and the participants, it is all PR packaged to the simplistist of criterias, bloody clocks and bank balances.
    We rarely see in print or otherwise commentary on the balletic movements of some of our sportsman and women,
    It takes a good and adaptive journalist to put to the writtren word an intersting piece that encapsuletes the aesthetics of sport. Far easier to go to print with a clock, or figures of a bank balance.
    All to the benefit of wannabe Flett and Wall St tycoons.

  • 32
    Harry Rogers
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I stopped going to sport years ago now long after I stopped playing. I watch verry little on TV , skipped the Olympics entirely. Its a misnomer these days it’s all theatre and Im sure if they could bring back the lions in the arena we will have that also.

    I dont blame the Murdochs or the “big end of town” As in the Roman times the Emperor just gave the people what they want. The truth of todays society in many ways is well hidden and how quick it is to look for scape goats for its failings.

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