CANBERRA, February 9, 2013 - A year-long government investigation has found widespread use of banned substances by athletes in Australian professional sport.
Several players from multiple clubs in major sporting codes are suspected of having used or currently using peptides, hormones and other illicit drugs.
The report found coaches, sports scientists and support staff of elite professionals have coordinated and/or supported the use of prohibited drugs, some of which have not yet been approved for human use.
While the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) has not released names of those involved, it confirmed there is increasing evidence of concerning personal relationships between professional athletes and organised criminal groups.
These links are likely to have also resulted in match fixing and manipulation of betting markets.
Australian Justice Minister Jason Clare said one potential case of match-fixing was already under investigation.
"The findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans.
"It's cheating...but it's worse than that. It's cheating with the help of criminals,” he said.
The Minister maintained while the findings are widespread, it is not the majority of athletes using banned substances.
Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) boss Richard Ings said Australians have been ignoring doping in sport for too long.
‘‘This is not a black day in Australian sport, this is the blackest day in Australian sport," he said.
Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard spoke about the ACC’s findings after arriving in New Zealand today.
“In the sense that anything we’ve seen has been fuelled by banned substances, I think would be pretty sickening for sport fans, it’s pretty sickening for me.” she said.
The Prime Minister didn’t say whether the Crime Commission should name and shame those involved in the scandal.
Sports Minister Kate Lundy said
"we must remain vigilant" to fight the challenges to sports
"If you want to dope and cheat, we will catch you," she said. "If you want to fix a match, we will catch you."
''Today is about the integrity of sport in Australia,'' she said.
ACC CEO John Lawler said the investigation was "proactive" but stressed not to underestimate the extent of organised crime in sport.
"It's an issue that we're all confronting and will continue to confront.
"We're hopeful that criminal charges will be laid," he said.
Heads of several Australian sporting codes have been quick to respond, they said they will fully cooperate with authorities.
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said he was stunned by the report and did not know how many AFL clubs were involved.
Both, AFL and Australian Rugby Union officials confirmed internal investigations had already begun.
NRL chief executive David Smith said: "we need to be strong."
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said his organisation was "as confident as we can be" that there was no match-fixing in the Big Bash.
All major sporting organisations in Australia, including the AFL, NRL, FFA, ARU and Cricket Australia have formed a coalition to assist the crackdown.
The individual bodies have agreed to:
• Establish integrity units to deal with doping, betting and ethical issues;
• Co-operate with ASADA and law enforcement agencies in a joint investigation;
• Call on their athletes to come forward and own up to wrongdoing and co-operate with investigators to possibly reduce sanctions;
• Enact a multi-code policy to share information and implement doping sanctions across codes;
• Have zero tolerance for any support staff involved in pedalling inappropriate substances and help ensure they are not employed in other codes.
The ACC has referred all its findings to the Australian Federal Police and state police forces, who along with ASADA will undertake more investigations.
Charges are yet to be laid.