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SBD Global/February 8, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Australia's top sporting codes "have been rocked by revelations" that organized crime is behind the increasing use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by ''multiple athletes'' across sporting codes and possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets, according to Michael Gordon of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Top professional and participation sports heads "expressed shock" after being briefed on a 12-month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission that found professional sport in Australia was ''highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration.'' Police are "pursuing evidence" that some coaches, sports scientists and support staff at clubs have "orchestrated or condoned the use of banned drugs and that organised crime figures distributed the drugs." The probe, code-named Project Aperio, revealed personal relationships between pro athletes and organized crime groups that might ''have resulted in match fixing and the fraudulent manipulation of betting markets'' (SMH, 2/8). The AFP reported in some cases, players were "being administered with substances that have not yet been approved for human use." Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said, "The findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans." The report said there were "clear parallels between what has been discovered in Australia and the USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) investigation into Lance Armstrong" (AFP, 2/7). NLN's Jones & Buttler reported drug-taking pro athletes were urged to "come forward before you get a knock at the door." The report also revealed that at least one match "may have been fixed" and is being investigated. Police have been handed 100 pieces of intelligence by the ACC and criminals pushing performance enhancing drugs "have been linked to money laundering, fraud and match fixing." Doctors are "writing scripts in false names" for drugs supplied by compounding pharmacies. ACC Exec Dir Paul Jevtovic revealed that phone taps and coercive hearings "had been used." He added the use of drugs not even scheduled had left the commission with "clear evidence players are being used as guinea pigs" (NEWS LTD. NETWORK, 2/8).
'BLACKEST DAY': In London, Alison Rourke reported Clare said that in some cases, sports scientists had "orchestrated the doping of entire teams." Clare: "It's cheating but it's worse than that. It's cheating with the help of criminals. We're talking about multiple athletes across multiple codes." Former Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority Head Richard Ings said that it was a "wake-up call for Australian sport." Ings said, "This is not a black day in Australian sport. This is the blackest day in Australian sport" (GUARDIAN, 2/7). The PA reported Ings said that Australians "had been complacent about the idea of drug use in their country." Ings: "I think we have been seduced by the romantic nature of sport. There has been a belief with some sports and even with some officials that doping just would not take place in Australian sport and if it did it was isolated and sporadic." Legal constraints "prevented the identification of any particular sport, teams or athletes." However, the sporting body heads at the announcement and a statement from umbrella organization Coalition of Major Professional & Participation Sports "outlined the collective determination to tackle the issue." The statement read, "These are serious matters that require immediate action and the development of a longer term plan" (PA, 2/7). In Sydney, Ben Packham wrote senior politicians are demanding "more details" and claiming "the taint of corruption now hangs unfairly over all players from major codes." Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said the ACC should "reveal the extent of the problem." Rudd: “The key thing now is to establish the facts which players, which clubs because I'm a bit concerned about every person out there who we've all watched, admired ... is now walking around with a total cloud over their head” (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
'WAR' DECLARED ON SCIENTISTS: In Sydney, Caroline Wilson reported Australian Football League PA CEO Matt Finnis has "declared war on maverick sports scientists as disturbing evidence continued to unfold of unusual chemical practices undertaken" last year at Essendon FC. Essendon footballers "were injected in the stomach" by sacked sports official Stephen Dank and were "intravenously fed supplements at a Botox clinic." Finnis said that "he was horrified" by ACC's statement that athletes were being used as ''guinea pigs'' (SMH, 2/8). Also in Sydney, Brent Read reported "controversial" sports science consultant Dank is a shareholder in a medical clinic promoting the sale of drugs that the ACC and ASADA have" identified as being misused" in professional sports and the wider population. According to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission's database, Dank "has a share" in Medical Rejuvenation Clinic Australia (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8). In Melbourne, Kaila & Hunt reported the clinic boasts "a substantial range of Australian-produced Protein Peptides ... at very competitive prices." Its website makes special reference to 15 products, including GHRP-6, CJC-1295, IGF-1, SARM, Hexarelin and MGF, which the Therapeutic Goods Administration said were "not registered for use in Australia" and "should not be available for commercial supply or sale" (HERALD SUN, 2/8).
UNACCREDITED SCIENTISTS: In Sydney, Rick Morton reported the vast majority of Australia's estimated 500 sports scientists who work at the elite level are "not officially accredited, work in a field flush with cash and are expected to bend the rules to maintain a competitive edge." Exercise Sports Science Australia board member David Bishop said the lack of registration across multiple codes had led to "charlatans" practicing at the highest level. The ACC's report was "careful to draw attention to the crucial role played by some sports scientists in flouting the rules." The report states, "Some of these (sport) scientists are playing a critical role in pushing legal and regulatory boundaries in relation to sport supplementation programs and medical treatments given to players" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
SUPPLIERS POINT FINGERS: In Sydney, Phil Lutton reported significant figures in the sports supplement industry have "welcomed additional scrutiny to their operations," but warn that athletes "remain at risk from the glut of unregulated, imported products that have flooded the local market." Many sports supplement suppliers have commercial relationships with clubs and individual players, "giving cause for the ACC to pinpoint the growing industry as a major threat to the integrity of sport." Supplements made in Australia are "heavily regulated and subject to testing" by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. However, imported brands from the U.S. and Britain "can be manufactured under substantially less stringent conditions" (SMH, 2/8).
HOLD YOUR BETS: In Sydney, Milanda Rout reported sports betting across the country "should be banned" in the wake of the ACC investigation. Anti-gambling campaigner and independent senator Nick Xenophon wants a "temporary ban on the industry," which in '10-11 resulted in more than $3.3B worth of betting, until "measures to clean up sporting codes are implemented." Senator Xenophon said the "extraordinary" findings required an immediate response from the government "to protect the integrity of sporting codes that millions of Australians love" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8). In Melbourne, Tom Conlin reported betting agencies "have begun suspending betting" on markets involving the Round 1 Adelaide-Essendon game in the wake of the drug scandal surrounding the AFL side. Tattsbet is "not offering odds" on the side's round 1 clash with the Crows, due to take place on March 22, as well as futures betting on all clubs' end-of-season table positions (HERALD SUN, 2/7).
U.K. HEEDS WARNING: The PA reported U.K. Anti-Doping CEO Andy Parkinson, has warned the U.K. is "vulnerable to exactly the kind of threats" highlighted in the ACC report. Parkinson stressed that there "should be no complacency" in the U.K. over the battle against such issues. Parkinson: "It is vital that independent anti-doping organizations and professional sports administrators in particular work together to combat any potential use of performance-enhancing substances, developing effective prevention programmes to ensure a clean sport culture among players" (PA, 2/7).
Drug-cheating athletes "have been warned they will face automatic bans of four years" -- double the current penalty -- "if they fail to turn themselves in by the end of the year to authorities conducting an Australia-wide purge of the major sporting codes," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey said Wednesday that his organization "would adopt tougher penalties in response to growing evidence that professional sport was being corrupted by the proliferation of new-generation, performance-enhancing drugs and the influence of organised crime." He said any athletes who offered "substantial assistance" to investigating authorities would be shown the same leniency given to cyclists who helped expose Lance Armstrong's drugs fraud. The four-year penalty, which "would apply to any Australian footballer, rugby league, rugby union or soccer player found to have taken a banned substance, would be adopted at WADA's world conference in November." Fahey said, "If you are caught, you will be dealt with in a manner that can take you out of the sport forever" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
TARNISHED REPUTATIONS: In Sydney, Denham & Read reported forensic accountants "have been sent into at least four" National Rugby League clubs and the Australian Football League "has called an emergency commission meeting to broaden the powers of its integrity unit." The ARL Commission "has hired accountancy firm Deloitte to conduct forensic analysis of the sports science departments across its clubs." NRL players Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston, in Brisbane to promote Friday's All-Stars game, said that "they feared all players had been tarnished by the revelations and rugby league needed to weed out the drug cheats quickly." Inglis said, "I'd love to see this resolved in a quick manner. But I heard there's more details to come out. I'd just like to see it cleaned up and wiped out so we can get on with playing the game" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
ARU SEEKS INTEGRITY: Also in Sydney, Smith & Harris reported the Australian Rugby Union "will significantly expand its integrity unit as a result of the Australian Crime Commission's revelations." New ARU CEO Bill Pulver said that "rugby was not under the ACC microscope." Pulver said, "There is no current investigation of any of these matters in relation to rugby." But in his first week in the job, Pulver now realizes that the ARU "has no option but to tighten its defences." Pulver said, "It would be naive to suggest the problem does not exist in rugby union as well." Asked whether that meant the ARU would expand its integrity unit, Pulver replied: "I suspect there will need to be an expansion of our investment in this area. Clearly this is a very important area in the future of our game and so we will invest appropriately" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8). NLN's Jessica Marszalek reported the country's top athletes "have been told to turn themselves in and dob in their mates before they are hauled before authorities on doping or match-fixing claims. Justice Minister Jason Clare said that police officers in every state and anti-doping authority ASADA "were sifting through a mountain of information following 30 hearings." That included "more than 100 intelligence reports prepared from the year-long investigation" by the ACC. Clare said, "Don't underestimate how much we know. And if you are involved in this, come forward before you get a knock at the door" (NEWS LTD. NETWORK, 2/8).
NRL REACTS: The Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH reported NRL officials responded swiftly to Thursday's "alarming revelations of widespread drug use in sport by commencing an audit of the supply and administration of all performance services to its players." The NRL was not immune with new CEO Dave Smith, declaring "more than one player, and more than one club" was mentioned in the report. In response, Smith said the NRL would establish a "fully resourced" integrity unit to oversee the operations of its clubs (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/7). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported Smith would not confirm "whether he knew the names of players and clubs alleged to be involved in the use of prohibited substances or match-fixing, which the ACC claims to have evidence of occurring in an unidentified code on one occasion." Smith, "I couldn't talk about those sorts of things or give any indication whatsoever. It affects more than one player at more than one club, but the absolute vast majority of our players do a great job. They are great athletes and play a great game of football" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/8). Also in Sydney, Andrew Webster reported players and clubs that "stand accused of doping and with possible links to organised crime will still be allowed to start the NRL season" (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/8).
AFL MOVES SWIFTLY: Also in Sydney, Greg Denham reported the AFL Thursday "moved swiftly to shore up the integrity of the competition after admitting that it could not rely solely on drug testing of its players." AFL Commission Chair Mike Fitzpatrick "called for an emergency meeting to broaden the power of the league's integrity unit." Fitzpatrick declared "the world has changed and we must respond to it." In relation to the ACC report, he said, "I'm not sure if it's a couple of individuals or more widespread." Last night all 18 clubs were put on notice by the AFLC and "sent a list of reforms to be acted on following a meeting with senior club personnel." The raft of integrity reforms "includes background checks on all staff, including sports scientists, high-performance managers and subcontractors, as well as an audit on supplements used by players" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8). Also in Sydney, Denham reported in a separate piece "powerhouse AFL clubs Geelong and Hawthorn will remain committed to the principle of the AFL's three-strikes illicit drug policy despite a number of reservations following the release" of the report (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
MATCH-FIXING BIGGEST CONCERN: Also in Sydney, Ray Gatt reported the biggest concern for Australian football in the light of Thursday's damning report "is match fixing, not the use of performance-enhancing drugs." A Football Federation Australia spokesperson said, "As far as we are aware, and we have been in touch with VicPol, there is no A-League match under investigation." While FFA CEO David Gallop said that the ACC report "didn't specifically concern soccer," he said that the code "would not become complacent in dealing with the issues of performance-enhancing drugs and match fixing" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8). Also in Sydney, Dominic Bossi reported Western Sydney Wanderers Exec Chair and former A-League CEO Lyall Gorman said that "the game has not received reports of approaches from organised crime syndicates involved in illegal substance use or match-fixing." However, "it is believed one A-League game was identified as worthy of investigation by match-fixing experts after it allegedly attracted wagers" of more than A$40M ($41.1M) from Asian punters to Hong Kong betting agencies. The amount of money "was a massive spike on normal trends" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
Organized crime "is using performance-enhancing and illicit drugs to entrap athletes who may then be blackmailed to fix matches," according to Malcolm Conn of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. A report by the Australian Crime Commission "found a link between the illegal use of drugs and attempts to match-fix or spot-fix." Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, who is also the head of Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, confirmed that "illegal activities were sometimes intertwined." Sutherland said this was the most alarming aspect of the "shocking" report. Sutherland said, "It's fair to say that this report further highlights a propensity for organized crime to get closer to athletes with a possible implication of compromising the integrity of sporting events by fixing matches or spot fixing" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 2/8). In Sydney, Wayne Smith reported Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver, who "being put through a torrid initiation in his first week in the job," said that "what was deeply concerning" about the Australian Crime Commission briefing "was that performance-enhancing drugs appeared to be just the leading edge of the problem." Pulver said, "What organized crime is doing is penetrating professional sport by investing in legitimate businesses that are supplying to professional sport" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/8).
CRIMINAL EXPOSURE: Also in Sydney, Lisa Davies reported individuals with ''extensive criminal associations'' are involved in legitimate business partnerships with major Australian sporting codes, leaving athletes "exposed to exploitation and corruption through otherwise legitimate relationships." The report stated: "Illicit drug use by athletes leaves them particularly vulnerable to exploitation for other criminal purposes, including match fixing and fraud arising out of the provision of 'inside information.' There is also evidence to suggest that some athletes are supplying others with illicit drugs" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/8).
The All India Tennis Association "outrightly rejected the rebel players’ fresh demands," saying that their inclusion in the Exec or Selection Committees is "not possible unless they enter the national federation through elections," according to the PTI. The organization also said that the three-member committee it has formed to resolve the ongoing crisis "would go ahead with its work and if players make themselves available, they will be considered for selection." Somdev Devvarman, who is leading the players’ revolt, has asked the national federation to re-constitute its Exec and Selection Committees by having 50% players representation "in the two bodies." The AITA had "acceded to most of the earlier demands." AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee said, “We want to resolve it honestly, but I think the players have agreed to only disagree. Some people are playing petty politics from outside and in the process they are jeopardising the careers of several players. It is like holding the country to ransom. They are destroying the careers of young players” (PTI, 2/7).
After more than six years of Jockey Club lobbying, the Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau Wednesday "backed the two-way combining of betting pools with foreign jurisdictions, allowing overseas punters access to the larger and more attractive pools here," according to Alan Aitken of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. The system, known as "commingling," would mean a boost of HK$200M ($25.8M) a year in revenue for the government on top of more than HK$10B ($1.3B) it currently receives in duty from the Jockey Club. The Betting Duty Bill "will be put to the Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year," with the new set-up to start in time for the '13-14 season in September. The countries that now wager on Hong Kong races pay the Jockey Club a 3% fee on holdings. Jockey Club officials said that these small, localized holdings total HK$3B ($387M) to HK$4B ($516M) a year globally. This figure "would at least double if the same bets were commingled into the larger pools here" (SCMP, 2/7).
Following Southeast Asian Games host Myanmar dropping several sports from this year's edition, Indonesia "is pushing" for tennis and gymnastics to be put back on the agenda (JAKARTA GLOBE, 2/7). ... The Pakistan Cricket Board's consultant for the Pakistan Super League, Haroon Lorgat, "is trying to convince the Cricket South Africa board members to issue 'No Objection Certificates' to their players to play in Pakistan." It is believed that Cricket Australia and CSA "have denied their players to participate in PSL" for security reasons. However, CSA President Chris Nenzani insisted that "no decision has been taken in this regard yet" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 2/6).