Anti-Doping Allies Recruited By ACC

The Australian Crime Commission has gone all guns blazing and is now looking for a range of high-powered law enforcement bodies to help embattled anti-doping officials deal with drugs in sport.

The ACC has been building a broader network of police and government officials behind the scenes to help safeguard the integrity of sport, with the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority under pressure to demonstrate the results of its investigation into the major football codes. The Commission has been distributing intelligence briefs to stakeholders and has convinced the government to allow even more sensitive information to be shared in the future.

In its bombshell report, the ACC alleged widespread doping and illegal drug use among Australian athletes and the Commission found that the use of banned drugs had been “orchestrated and condoned” by coaches, sports scientists, and support staff across multiple sporting codes. It was also found that crime groups were involved in the distribution of banned drugs including hormones and growth-hormone releasing substances called peptides. After the report was released, Jason Clare, the national minister for home affairs and justice said the findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans and added that it’s cheating but it’s worse than that as it’s cheating with the help of criminals and we’re talking about multiple athletes across multiple codes.

The Australian Crime Commission report caused disbelief and controversy in February after the agency issued a warning that sport was under threat from cheats and criminals. The agency has distributed a classified strategic assessment on Project Aperio to state and territory police, Customs, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

The pursuit of ACC towards organized crime figures led investigators to the National Rugby League and the Australian Football League more than a year ago and officials from those codes were only briefed on the threats and not read the assessment prepared in February. The assessment included a series of confidential recommendations to clean up the major football codes and is less diplomatic than the shorter and sanitized version made public a few months ago. The assessment, while the new legislation aims to give stronger powers to the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority, suggests that the government consider leveraging the powers of law enforcement agencies, including the coercive powers of the ACC, to enhance and strengthen the anti-doping arrangements of Australia.

The recommendations were confirmed by Sport Minister Kate Lundy and Justice Minister Jason Clare and included law enforcement bodies and government agencies forging permanent working relationships with ASADA and the newly established National Integrity of Sport Unit.

The Commission is also looking for consistent laws making the supply of drugs banned by the World Anti-doping Agency a criminal offense, punishable by at least an imprisonment of three years, and suggests tighter regulation of the supply of sports supplements, which the Australian government has yet to commit to. A few months back, Opposition spokesman Michael Keenan said a Coalition government would direct the ACC to get back to “chasing the most serious criminals”, but the Australian Crime Commission regards the potential for sport to be infiltrated by organized crime as such a serious threat it wants to re-examine the drug issues within three years.

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