Departing ASADA chief executive Ben McDevitt has warned Australian sport faces an ongoing and more sophisticated threat of doping.
McDevitt announced on Wednesday he will stand down in May, ending a three-year stint which included one of the most controversial periods in Australian sport.
McDevitt took over from Aurora Andruska in May 2014 and led the anti-doping organisation during the long-running Essendon supplements saga which saw 34 past and present players banned.
“My experience has convinced me that we face an ongoing threat of doping. It is more sophisticated, more readily available and harder to detect,” McDevitt said in a statement.
“There are people willing to push the boundaries with experimental substances and methods which have not been clinically tested or approved for human use.
“The ‘win at all costs’ mentality harms athletes, destroys fair play and equitable competition and does irreparable damage to the credibility of sport.
“ASADA is trying its best to protect clean athletes and their right to compete on a level playing field.”
After taking over at the height of the Essendon saga, McDevitt persistently pursued the club and fought a series of legal battles which eventually led to the suspensions and 2012 Brownlow medallist Jobe Watson being stripped of the award.
He labelled Essendon’s supplements regime led by sports scientist Stephen Dank as utterly disgraceful and “the most devastating self-inflicted injury by a sporting club in Australian history”.
McDevitt also insisted former Bombers coach James Hird had to take responsibility for his role in the saga.
He defended ASADA’s handling of the protracted matter as well as the organisation’s 18-month investigation into 12 Cronulla NRL players which resulted in back-dated bans.
Before taking the job, McDevitt spent almost 30 years in law enforcement including 22 years with the Australian Federal Police and a stint at the Australian Crime Commission.
“Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry in Australia and an $800-billion industry globally. We have to protect the integrity of that industry.
“Beyond dollars though, the reputation of Australian sporting excellence and the achievements of our athletes is just extraordinary and we have to jealously guard our reputation for fair play.”
“There is a growing realisation that an investment in sports integrity should be viewed not as a business cost but as a business enabler.”
Sport Minister Greg Hunt said McDevitt’s departure was entirely of his own choosing and thanked him for protecting Australian sport during his tenure.