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).