Are Australia’s sports bosses surrendering to the drugs cheats, 4 Corners asked last night.

Certainly,
the Federal Government’s decision to throw away the opportunity to be
the global centre of blood doping research defies logic. It was a
totally dumb decision by a totally dumb minister – Kackie Jelly –
influenced by some jealous and empire-building bureaucrats.

Check out the report here: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/

However,
two important points need to be made; the AIS was never involved in
anti doping research – on site – before it got involved in the EPO test
leading up to the Sydney Olympics. That project “finished” with a
successful outcome.

The ban was introduced by Kelly on
the spurious pretext that such testing might compromise elite athletes
at the AIS. Had she checked, she would have discovered that the EPO
testing was not carried out on site at the AIS, and that non-elite
athletes from local Canberra sports clubs were used.

Second,
AIS scientists have continued to be involved in anti-doping research in
collaboration with other institutions – and there is now more money
being spent on drug research in Australia than ever before.

Unfortunately,
non-entity Kelly has been replaced as minister by non-entity Rod Kemp,
who was unable to clearly deliver this key message last night.

The
second part of the 4 Corners story concentrated on Commonwealth Games
gold medallist Stuart Rendell, and allegations leveled against him by
his ex-wife, sports psychologist Gayelene Clews.

In the
incestuous world of Aussie athletics, Clews is also the ex-wife of Rob
De Castella. She came across last night as a feisty operator, as she
outlined her suspicions that ex-hubby Number Two had received a
shipment of tablets from the US, “pro-HGH”, claimed to boost natural
levels of Human Growth Hormone. Apparently, strictly, not a banned
substance.

Media outlets who want to dig up dirt in this
area need to be wary that there are hordes of lawyers waiting to sue on
this. Already the Canberra Times has been hit with a huge writ by
Rendell’s lawyers.

As she told it last night, Clews
discovered the “evidence” against her hammer thrower husband by
rummaging around in his belongings while he was overseas – and while
they were undergoing their separation.

She sent her
evidence (a letter from Customs informing Rendell it had impounded some
tablets sent to him from the US) to the AIS, where he had a scholarship.

When
the AIS head coach, Chris Nunn, accepted Rendell’s claims he had not
received the supplement. Clews was undaunted. According to 4 Corners,
she sent the AIS a receipt for $US289 from the mail-order firm for
tablets apparently sent to her ex-husband.

And she made
sure to follow it up. “I felt I had a professional responsibility to do
so. It was as if no one within the organisation wanted the documents,”
she told 4 Corners. “Despite the fact that I’d handed them over five
times, I had to hand them over a sixth time.”

She
complained that the Australia Sports Commission performance was “an
absolute shambles, severely incompetent…I think this should have been
dealt with by the heads of the organisation, and I think this was a
serious enough matter to warrant their attention.”

She
told 4 Corners the Commission filed “a false record of interview”
during its investigation of the matter. The commission later
acknowledged an oversight and apologised to Clews, while an Australian
Government Solicitor audit eventually endorsed the commission’s
handling of events.

Gayelene Clews came across in last night’s show as one steely, determined woman.

The
moral of all this? You’d think that after a series of second rate
Sports Ministers – headed by Ros & Jackie Kelly and now Kemp – PMs
would understand that this is a portfolio that means plenty to
Australians, and deserves the attention of a competent frontbencher.

And if you’re going through a marriage break up; do make sure you pack your bags before your spouse does it for you.

Peter Fray

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