Organised gangs behind dealing peptides
Australian sport's clean-skin has a rotten core with organised criminal gangs dealing banned drugs to elite athletes.
The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) has uncovered a doping scandal across numerous sports, chiefly in the nation's two most popular football codes.
Police, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), the AFL and NRL have launched their own investigations amid ACC findings which disgusted a nation.
An ACC report found extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs at all levels of professional sport with links to match-fixing and organised crime.
One sporting club doped an entire team with a new-age group of performance-enhancing drugs called peptides, while one suspected case of match-fixing was being investigated.
Organised crime gangs are dealing peptides to athletes, cashing in on the drug group's status as a fountain of youth in anti-ageing clinics.
"It's cheating, but it's worse than that, it's cheating with the help of criminals," Justice Minister Jason Clare said on Thursday.
"We're talking about multiple athletes, across a number of codes.
"Wherever criminals are involved in influencing players, there is the risk that they will use that influence over players to fix matches ... we have identified information that suggests that that had happened on one occasion."
The ACC said the use of peptides, which promote hormone growth and hasten recovery from injury, was orchestrated by some coaching staff and sports scientists in findings described as "the blackest day in Australian sport" by former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) boss Richard Ings.
The ACC revealed "clear parallels" between its discoveries and the US Anti-Doping Agency's busting of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.
"The difference is that the Australian threat is current, crosses sporting codes and is evolving," the ACC said.
Legally, the ACC was prevented from naming in its released unclassified report any sport, clubs or players at the heart of their findings following a year-long investigation.
But the commission has forwarded a classified report to sporting codes and police forces around the nation detailing the names of athletes, officials and clubs allegedly involved. It is then up to the bodies to take action.
The AFL and NRL effectively outed themselves as sports involved by confirming their own investigations.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the report marked "the day we draw a line in the sand".
But Demetriou denied the report's release prompted Melbourne-based club Essendon to reveal two days ago they were being investigated by ASADA and the AFL over supplements they supplied to players last year.
NRL commission chief Dave Smith said more than one NRL club would be affected by the findings, with the league also to create an integrity unit.
"Information has come forward for NRL specifically that affects more than one player and more than one club," Smith said.
The federal government has moved to strengthen ASADA's investigative powers and resources in the wake of the report.
The senate on Wednesday night debated a bill which would give ASADA police-like powers to compel suspect athletes and others to turn up for questioning and hand over documents on request.
"We are well on the way to seeking out and hunting down those who will dope and cheat," Sports Minister Kate Lundy said.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates welcomed the move to give ASADA greater powers.
"The gloves are now off, we now have the powers to properly investigate doping and match fixing," Coates said.
"Olympic sports would be naive to think their sport is immune from the scourge of doping and illegal betting ... it must be a united effort, it must be a zero tolerance battle because of the scale of the problem."