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Volume 6 No. 212
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Former Australian Senator John Black Calls ACC Report On Drugs 'Amateur Hour'

Former Labor Senator John Black has labelled the present Australian Crime Commission investigation as "amateur hour," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Senate inquiry headed by Black "pioneered drugs-in-sport reform not just in this country but globally." The Black inquiry "covered virtually the same ground being explored by the ACC." But he "has little regard for the way the present investigation has been handled and sympathises with innocent athletes and sports angered by the fact they have been embroiled in what he views as a fairly cynical political exercise" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/15). In Sydney, Chip Le Grand reported one of Australia's senior sports administrators has lamented the "perhaps hysterical" initial response to the ACC's report into organized crime and drugs in sport. Former Int'l Cricket Council CEO Malcolm Speed also said that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "needed greater resources to investigate doping" in the Australian Football League and National Rugby League ranks in the wake of the ACC report (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/15). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported New South Wales Sports Minister Graham Annesley described a briefing he received from the ACC as ''serious'' and ''scary.'' He revealed that "investigators hoped the publicity would deter criminals from suppling players with performance-enhancing drugs." While many now feel the press conference headed by Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy and Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare was over the top, Annesley said that "he was shocked by what he was told at the briefing with ACC representatives" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/15).

Also in Sydney, Pia Akerman reported Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten "has accused the media of 'casting a cloud' over Australian sport through coverage" of the report. Shorten said that while "the issue of drugs in sport was 'a real issue,' there had been too much attention paid since the ACC last week claimed organised crime had infiltrated sport." Shorten said, "I believe that sport in Australia and a lot of the athletes ... are doing the right thing, and I think there has been an undue focus in the media on just casting a cloud over everyone. Do you think controversies are what sells newspapers?" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/14). Also in Sydney, Ray Gatt reported concerns A$40M ($41.4M) "was wagered on an A-League game by Asian punters have been put to rest after Football Federation Australia revealed the figure was in fact eight times less." Following its own investigation, FFA issued a press release Thursday confirming that the actual amount was A$5M. The discrepancy was blamed on the media, which "reported the estimated figure in Australian dollars instead of the correct denomination of Hong Kong dollars" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/15).

REJECTED CLAIMS: In Sydney, Walter reported ASADA officials have rejected claims by North Queensland Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain that "the club or any North Queensland player involved in the investigation into performance-enhancing drugs had been cleared." An ASADA official said, "At no point has ASADA indicated to clubs or players that individuals are cleared of any wrongdoing, or that teams have no case to answer. ASADA welcomes the ongoing commitment expressed by the sports and clubs to fully cooperate with its investigation" (SMH, 2/15). In Sydney, Brent Read reported Jourdain also revealed that he would speak to club Dir Trevor Cowling -- a lawyer -- "over whether the Cowboys could seek recourse for the damage caused by events of recent days." Jourdain said, "We have been asked to cooperate with the investigation and provide information. We have done that both verbally and formally." He added: "I will say we're entitled to feel a little aggrieved by the process. I am not sure why it needed to be so public" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/15).