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Australia's sporting shame

By Australia Correspondent Steve Marshall in Brisbane

Published: 6:06PM Friday February 08, 2013 Source: ONE News

By Australia Correspondent Steve Marshall in Brisbane

The doping and betting crisis enveloping Australian professional sport continues to unravel with Federal MPs on both sides of politics urging the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) to provide more details about the extent of drugs in sport.

A 12 month investigation by the ACC revealed widespread drug use within Australian sport, with some athletes being given substances not yet approved for human use.

The ACC also found links between professional sport and organised criminal networks, which have allegedly been involved in match-fixing and manipulation of betting markets.

Politicians argue that the bombshell announcement has cast a shadow over every professional athlete but the ACC says it cannot disclose more information such as names and clubs involved because of legal reasons.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is concerned about what impact the report will have on other athletes.

"The key thing now is to establish the facts - which players, which clubs," he said.

"Because I'm a bit concerned too about every person out there, who we've all watched, admired, spoken with in the changing rooms... now walking around today with a total cloud over their heads."

The ACC report has been forwarded on to various police forces for prosecution.

Play hard, play fair sporting image

The discovery of a jam jar full of urine hidden in the plumbing of NRL club, the Gold Coast Titans has further tarnished Australia's play hard, play fair sporting image.

Titans CEO David May moved quickly to distance the club from the discovery which was made by police during a bomb inspection training exercise.

"The jar, as we have been told, is about 5 years old and hundreds of teams have been through the changing room since then and just statistically, that it (the jar) is a Titans issue, is very small" he told reporters.

The discovery of the jar comes amid global concerns that there's a deliberate institutional blindness by Australian sport administrators to drug abuse in sport.

World Anti-doping President John Fahey said "It (drug abuse) seems to be so extensive, it is hard to believe today that those in charge did not know something was happening".

The ACC investigation found 'clear parallels' between what it uncovered and the investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency into disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong.

ACC head, John Lawler says arrests are likely. "I feel very confident that the authorities, where they can, will investigate these matters thoroughly and if appropriate, people will be brought before the courts", Mr Fahey said.

The widespread doping has been linked to anti-aging clinics that are selling drugs banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA.

Australian sports medicine guru Stephen Dank is a part owner of one such clinic in Sydney and is a key figure under investigation.

Dank was employed by the NRL's Manly Sea Eagles when they won the Premiership in 2008 and he is also understood to have advised the Panthers.

Independent auditors have swooped on both clubs looking for irregular payments for supplements made to outside sources.

Dank is also at the centre of the drugs scandal involving Australian Rules club Essendon which exploded this week.

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has warned those involved in illicit drug use to come forward.

"There will be people at all of our clubs, working at all different levels, including players that will have had a wake up call and asking what to do next, and that is a very good question" Mr Demetriou said.

As Australian sport tries to come to terms with the developing scandal, the Australian government announced gambling advertising during sporting events will be the subject of a federal parliamentary inquiry.

A joint select committee will examine advertising at venues and during broadcasts, sponsorship, in-game promotion and consider the effects on children.

It will also investigate spot betting, the promotion of odds and the impact on problem gambling that could have huge ramifications for several major sporting organisations.

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