Aussie Sports Leagues React To ACC Report About Use Of PEDs, Illicit Drugs
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).