Australian Probe Shows Need to Fight Criminal Threat, WADA Says

A report detailing common use of banned drugs in elite Australian sports facilitated by organized crime highlights the need for a global agency to fight the threat, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency said.

The Australian Crime Commission’s report made public yesterday identified the use of substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs across a number of sports in a nation that had a reputation for having a predominantly drug-free sporting culture.

WADA President John Fahey said the identification of criminal networks in the supply and trafficking of performance-enhancing substances in the report had come as no surprise to the agency, which has been alerting sports and governments to the menace for the last few years.

“This report offers further proof of the need for a global organization dedicated to fighting this threat,” Fahey said in a statement. “WADA does not have the jurisdiction or the resources to deal with the underworld’s growing influence on sport, which also involves corruption, bribery and illegal gambling.”

The commission’s findings, which were met today with front-page headlines including “Sport on Trial” in the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph, come amid increased international scrutiny of sports after Lance Armstrong acknowledged doping throughout his cycling career and European police said as many as 680 soccer matches may have been the target of attempted fixing.

Coaches, Doctors

Sports scientists, high-performance coaches, support staff and doctors were involved in the provision of banned substances, according to the report. Because of the involvement of crime gangs, the commission found that there is increasing evidence of “personal relationships of concern” between athletes and organized criminal identities and groups that may have resulted in match fixing and betting fraud.

Legal constraints prevented the identification of any particular sport, team or athlete in the report, Justice Minister Jason Clare said in Canberra yesterday.

While the chief executives of the nation’s cricket, soccer and rugby union bodies said there was no specific evidence relating to their sports, “more than one player and more than one club” in the National Rugby League were implicated, CEO Dave Smith said.

“As the ACC report shows, science and analysis alone will not eradicate doping in sport,” Fahey added. “There needs to be greater focus on intelligence gathering and investigations, and collaboration between government authorities across the world.”

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