Sydney: Australian cricket and football chiefs insisted their sports were not implicated in a damning report into widespread doping but rugby league bosses admitted they had a case to answer.
A year-long Australian Crime Commission probe concluded Thursday that drug use was widespread across multiple Australian sporting codes, with growing links to organised crime.
Specific players, teams and sports were not revealed for legal reasons but rugby league boss Dave Smith admitted the game had been implicated in the scandal.
“We’ve worked with the crime commission in the last week or so and information has come forward for NRL (National Rugby League) specifically that affects more than one player and more than one club,” he said.
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said the sport, rocked when Pakistani pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif failed drugs tests in 2006, was not included in the report.
“There was no specific evidence or links suggested to Australian cricket, which has a record of proactive management on issues such as anti-doping, illicit drugs, anti-corruption and bans on cricketers and cricket employees betting on cricket,” he said.
“But no sport can afford anything other than constant vigilance.
“Sport is an important part of the Australian way of life and fans rightly have high expectations of Australian sports’ integrity.”
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said: “There’s nothing specific in relation to football in relation to this report.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t join in the general concern about the issues that are raised in the report.”
“We must maintain vigilance in education, in making sure that players are aware of penalties that can be imposed, (and) in surveillance.”
The investigation identified common use in professional Australian sport of prohibited substances including peptides - a type of stimulant - hormones and illicit drugs.
It said criminal networks were involved in the distribution of illegal substances.
Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates has long campaigned for tougher measures to weed out drugs cheats and said the latest developments showed “the gloves are now off”.
“I urge our member sports to get involved with the other codes. Olympic sports would be naive to think their sport is immune from the scourge of doping and illegal betting,” he said.
World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey, an Australian, said he was alarmed, but not surprised, by the report’s findings, which proved the issue of doping was “alive and well”.
“I think it tells us how wide (and) how deep this problem is - in a country that prides itself on fair play we’ve got a problem of the nature we’ve heard of today,” Fahey told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.”