The use of performance-enhancing drugs is “widespread” among professional and amateur athletes in Australia, a government report has said, rocking the sports-mad nation.
• World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey said report should be a “wake up call”
• Minister for Justice Jason Clare said: “The findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans”
• National Rugby League chief revealed players and clubs were being investigated
The report was the result of a one-year probe by Australia’s leading criminal intelligence organisation into the use of drugs, both performance-enhancing and recreational, as well as the association of organised crime with the trade.
“The findings are shocking and they will disgust Australian sports fans,” home affairs minister Jason Clare said. “[It] has found the use of substances, including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs, is widespread amongst professional athletes.
“We are talking about multiple athletes across a number of codes. We’re talking about a number of teams.
“The findings indicate the drugs are being facilitated by sports scientists, coaches, support staff as well as doctors and pharmacists. In some cases, sports scientists and others are orchestrating the doping of entire teams. In some cases, players are being administered substances which have not yet been approved for human use.”
The report said organised crime was involved in the distribution of the drugs, which exposed players to the possibility of being co-opted into match-fixing, Mr Clare said. One such case had been identified and was being investigated, he said.
The government said it would do all in its power to crack down on the scourge. “If you want to dope and cheat, we will catch you, if you want to fix a match, we will catch you,” sports minister Kate Lundy said.
She said evidence of breaches of the World Anti-Doping Agency code would be passed to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (Asada) for further investigation.
Ms Lundy said the major sports would establish “integrity units” to counter doping and match-fixing, would cooperate with police and Asada on investigations and encourage players breaching rules to own up.
Former Asada chief Richard Ings said: “This is the blackest day in Australian sport.”
As well as the two ministers, the heads of all of Australia’s major professional sports were present for the report’s release.
“Australia’s major sports are rock solid behind the government in our determination to tackle this issue,” Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, who chairs the body representing professional sports, said. “As CEOs of our individual sports, we were shocked this week to hear evidence of the risks of the crime world.”
Mr Sutherland said the governing bodies of Australian rules football (AFL) and rugby league (NRL) had “concerns arising out of this report”.
AFL club Essendon has asked Asada to investigate supplements administered to their players last season.
NRL chief Dave Smith said the body had investigations under way with the help of a former judge, without specifying whether it was about doping, match-fixing or both.