Damning doping probe taints Australia’s clean-shaven sporting image

AFP-JIJI

Drug use is widespread in Australian sports and has growing links to organized crime, according to a damning official probe Thursday that points to “clear parallels” with the Lance Armstrong case.

The Australian Crime Commission inquiry identified the common use of prohibited substances, including peptides — a type of stimulant — hormones and illicit drugs, across multiple sports.

The findings from the year-long investigation shatter Australia’s reputation as a predominantly drug-free sporting nation, although specific players, teams and codes were not revealed for legal reasons.

“It’s a very black day for sport,” World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey, an Australian, told Sky News. “The enormity of what we’re hearing — that surprises me.”

The report indicated that sports scientists, coaches and support staff, as well as doctors and pharmacists, were involved in the provision of drugs, which were often supplied by organized criminal gangs. In some cases, players were being administered with substances that have not yet been approved for human use.

“The findings are shocking and will disgust Australian sports fans,” Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said of a nation whose sports teams routinely punch above their weight on the global stage. “Multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, potentially constituting antidoping rule violations,” he said.

“Officials from clubs have also been identified as administering, via injections and intravenous drips, a variety of substances. It’s cheating but it’s worse than that — it’s cheating with the help of criminals.”