Feb 7, 2013

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.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

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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32 thoughts on “Bombshell sports probe: drugs and corruption to ‘disgust’ fans

  1. paddy

    [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

    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

    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

    on the plus side – it’s only sport

  5. MJPC

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

  6. zut alors

    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

    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

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

  9. Anthony

    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

    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.

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