KATE LUNDY: The frustrations of facts with drugs in sport

Kate Lundy Columnist

By Kate Lundy, Kate Lundy is a Roar Expert

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    Former Federal Government Minister for Sport Kate Lundy released the ACC investigation's report (AAP Image/Julian Smith).

    EXCLUSIVE: The Australian Crime Commission is the most powerful crime authority in Australia. Its greatest strength is its coercive power, the frustration that this brings is the rules and secrecy that surround it.

    On Thursday we had five of Australia’s major sports, NRL, AFL, ARU, the FFA and Cricket Australia stand up with myself, the Minister for Justice Jason Clare, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA).

    For many sports fans this was not a nice introduction to the important work the ACC and ASADA do. The fact that the announcement could not come with naming codes, clubs or players is frustrating for fans and I understand that.

    Through The Roar, I am hoping that I can help fans understand the best way to get to the bottom of these disturbing allegations.

    This means that, while it is frustrating, we must allow the Crime Commission, ASADA and police to complete their investigations in a way that best allows them to catch cheaters and crooks who are threatening the integrity of Australian sport.

    The Crime Commission is an incredibly powerful agency that was established to combat serious and organised crime.

    It has the powers of a standing Royal Commission, which means they have the powers to compel people to answer questions they would not normally answer when under investigation by police or anti-doping officials.

    The Crime Commission also works in secret, which is why you heard both the AFL and NRL yesterday repeatedly state they are under legal obligations to not repeat information containing in briefings by the Commission.

    Being called to the Crime Commission is not a pleasant experience. In a room replicating a court you are asked a series of questions which you must answer, everything you say in that room is protected under the Crime Commission Act. As a witness you are under serious limits of what you can say once you leave the room. If you compromise the confidentiality of the hearings you face serious legal consequences including up to a $5,000 fine or one year imprisonment.

    In October last year the Crime Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the ASADA to help the two organisations better share intelligence and work together to investigate sports doping.

    ASADA, who’s role is to protect the integrity of sport through doping, conducted more that 7,000 tests and initiated 28 anti-doping investigations in 2011-12. The Government knows as a result of yesterday’s announcement the number of investigations will increase substantially.

    I have already acted to address this. During the week I introduced legislation to amend the ASADA’s legislation to increase ASADA’s investigative powers and double the funding for investigations.

    Right now, if you receive a call from ASADA to attend an interview there is no punishment if you do not attend. This means that some athletes and support personnel are giving ASADA the run-around and not cooperating with investigations.

    We want this to stop, which is why the changes before Parliament give ASADA the power to issue fines for those persons of interest who do not co-operate with investigators.

    ASADA investigations are always completed confidentially to protect their integrity and to protect those both under investigation and those that wish to blow the whistle on prohibited practises.

    Some people have asked why the Government released the findings of the Crime Commission report yesterday when we couldn’t release any details of the names and clubs involved.

    That’s a reasonable question and it has a reasonable answer.

    Under the law, ASADA can only start working with sports on an investigation after the Crime Commission has publicly released its report. Now that the report is released, that important work can begin.

    Not every athlete is a cheat and the AFL and NRL have very much moved on the front foot to address the Crime Commission’s report. They have opened their doors to ASADA investigators and are cooperating fully.

    This is a tough time for sports fans who believe in a clean, fair, equal sport.

    But, yesterday, sports fans around the country saw the leaders of Australia’s professional sport stand side-by-side with the Government to draw a line in the sand.

    Doping and cheating doesn’t belong in Australian sport and it’s up to all of to fight against it.

    Together with your support, I’m sure we can achieve this.

    Kate Lundy is a member of the Australian Senate, representing the Australian Capital Territory, and was Minister for Sport at the time of writing.

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    The Crowd Says (95)

    • Columnist

      February 8th 2013 @ 12:19am
      Spiro Zavos said | February 8th 2013 @ 12:19am | ! Report

      The first point to make about Senator Kate Lundy’s response written especially for The Roar is that she wants to take the investigation into doping and match fixing in Australian sport to the heart of the sporting community, which is The Roar community. And this approach needs to be welcomed.

      Her response answers, or gives an answer to (which are not necessarily the same thing) to the obvious question: why was such an explosive report which effectively damns Australian sport creating headlines like ‘Australian Sport’s Darkest Day’ published without any supporting evidence other than generalisations?

      Where are the names of the clubs? Where are the names of the players? Where are the names of the dopers? Where are the names of the matches that have been fixed?

      Senator Lundy’s answer is reasonable, up to a point. She says that ASADA, the drug testing authoritiy, needs a Crme Commission report before it can go into its own deep investigation. And now ASADA has that report.

      It is also clear from her response that she is convinced that the authorities have the information that will lead to arrests, and cleaning out the bad influences in Australian sport.

      Why do I say that? There is a some emphasis on the powers and reach of the Crime Commission. It has interviewing and telephone tapping powers that are formidabe. This suggests that they have uncovered information that will ultimately lead to arrests.

      There is the suggestion that the information has been gained in rather the same way as the investigation into the coal allocation scandal in NSW has operated.

      The theory behind this reasoning is that the authorities are in a sense offering people who have been investigated secretly or have information or are involved in doping or match-fixing (an unlikely proposition for these people, I suggest) will come forward with information to move the investigation on.

      The bait is a much smaller punishment or a suspended punishment if they come forward voluntarily.

      Here is where the matter becomes complicated.

      Many sports journalists either do not believe the authorities have the information they are building their campaign around. Or, if there is evidence that the guilty parties will come forward voluntarily.

      The argument here is that the Senator and the authorities are perhaps shouting in the dark.

      The only way to dispel this argument is for the investigation to proceed quickly from now on.

      Today in the SMH there is a front page story about possibilities of links between the health/body-building/anti-aging supplement and crime figures.

      Wayne Bennett, who is a model of doing the right thing in sport, insists that sport is cleaner now than ever before.

      And Malcolm Knox, arguably one of the best informed sports columnist in Australia, is calling on the authorities to actually deliver some hard information to counter the argument that there is the element of a political stunt in all of this.

      My feeling from reading everything that has emerged from all of this is that the ARL and the AFL have matters that need to be investigated. This seems to be clear from Senator Lundy’s response on The Roar where she mentions these codes specifically.

      There seems to be enough media noise, if it can be called that too, about a murky relationship between providers of a new type of drugs and bizarre measures like calves blood are some sports franchises.
      How deep all this is and how widespread it is amongst the major professional codes remains, so far, a moot point.

      There is an absolute need for names of players, clubs, promoters of the drugs and the match-fixing to come out as soon as possible.

      Authorities have taken a huge step in attacking the integrity and credibility of Australian sport, something that will have repercussions for Australian athletes for decades to come when the inference will be that they may well be cheats.

      When something as dramatic as this is put forward it is absolutely beholden on the authorities to come up with the hard evidence and, most importantly, successful prosecutions.

      This is a try that absolutely has to be converted for the game to be won.

      • February 9th 2013 @ 8:57am
        TC said | February 9th 2013 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        It’s interesting that you mention the SMH article on links between the health/body-building/anti-aging supplement and crime figures.

        The report also mentions this aspect, along with use of illicit substances by amateur sportsmen.

        And this is a problem I have with this report: it is mixing up a lot of things in the one report, a report that is ostensibly about drugs in elite sport, but in fact Image enhancing drugs are brought into the discussion, muddying the waters. At the end of the day, what is this report actually about? Is it 95% image enhancing drugs and 5% PEDs in elite sport?

        On top of that, the language is incredibly inconsistent throughout the report, much of it mere conjecture. How can the report conclude the “widespread”: use of banned substances from the ambiguous language used in the rest of the report? It’s a big leap from bodybuilders using such substances to elite footballers using them.

        On the whole, I would suggest that this report has been “sexed up” to correspond with the political cycle. There is no political mileage to be gained from focusing on body builders and anti-aging clinics. But an opportunity for the Minister to sit with the major football codes, well, far more mileage in that.

        It’s notable that the Minister chose to sit in her conference with the heads of five prominent sports (some of which are not the least bit implicated within the report), ignoring other sports that clearly have issues with banned substances.

        Is there a bodybuilding association? Why weren’t they represented at the conference?

        I call out extreme political grand standing here.

        • February 9th 2013 @ 11:24am
          Anon said | February 9th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          where were the representatives from the AOC and Cycling?

          One also has to wonder – the ACC is concerned with illegality – whereas the sporting bodies are concerned with WADA compliance.

          Those two concerns can sometimes be mutually exclusive.

          A giant scalp for the ACC and law enforcers may not necessarily be seen as such from the sports perspective.

          TC – the political cycle. You’re not suggesting some pre election grand standing using the ACC as a tool for such?? (although I remember back to the 2007 election campaign where John Howard and his mates went hard on illicit drugs and zero tolerance and all that. Hopefully the Govt is better briefed this time round than Howard/Brandis and Pyne were back then.

          • February 9th 2013 @ 2:09pm
            TC said | February 9th 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            An election year.
            An unfocused report using ambiguous, inconsistent language which mixes up elite sport with whatever might be happening in bodybuilding and anti-aging circles.
            A government agency failing in its primary objective lobbying to be rewarded with more taxpayer funding.
            Notable absences from the Minister’s press conference with more heat than light.

            Who could possibly believe this whole episode has been contrived for the express purpose of political grandstanding?

        • February 10th 2013 @ 7:22pm
          BigAl said | February 10th 2013 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

          Not wanting to demean The Roar, but the fact that the author is a very busy busy, busy and important person and is an integral component of this Dark Period in Australian History . . . how on earth does she find the time to put the article together ???

          • Editor

            February 10th 2013 @ 9:53pm
            Tristan Rayner said | February 10th 2013 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

            I do like a good conspiracy theory, BigAl. But what are you implying? That we wrote this? Very odd.

            Please call her department to discuss your ‘concerns’, rather than attempt to bring into question a small, hard-working editorial team.

            Tristan, Roar Editor.

            • February 10th 2013 @ 11:48pm
              BigAl said | February 10th 2013 @ 11:48pm | ! Report

              What I am implying is that the article is political spin from someone in her office.
              I was drawn to make the post as a reply to (and in agreement with ) the post from TC which ends…

              ” I call out extreme political grand standing here.”

              I am neither planning to call her department to discuss anything, nor attempting to bring into question your editorial team.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 10th 2013 @ 4:16pm
        Sharminator said | February 10th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        I agree with your comments here completely spiro.
        The problem with this report is that it has blackened the name of Australian sport, not just in Australia, but around the world, without actually giving names or any proof or wrongdoing by anyone.

        Proving doping in sport is notoriously hard, especially amongst elite athletes, Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Tim Montgomery etc were never caught by any doping agency, but they were caught up in other investigations. The latter three admitted their involvement under threat of jail time, while Armstorng fessed up after even ex team mates started telling the truth.

        I cant remember the last time a big name in Australian sport was caught for drug taking, either by the ASDA or by other drug agencies when competing overseas. Maybe it is because they are using undetectable drugs, or using masking agents. Or maybe it is because they are not using them at all.

        The report contains all types of allegations, I understand some of the justifications for this outlined by the minister, but when weighing up the procs and cons of releasing such a report, without naming anyone, I think the report is a disservice to all Australian sportsmen and women, and Australians as a whole. It also contains allegations about drugs which are not even prohibited by the WADA. If they are not prohibited by the WADA … what is the issue?

        The majority of Australian sportspeople dont cheat … if they did they would be caught and friends/relatives/teamates would know.
        What is needed in Australian sport is more education, and to simply regulalry remind athletes of examples such as Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones, who were at one stage rich and on top of the world due to sporting success, but doped, lied, were forced to admit their drug use, were stripped of their titles, and are now discredited and living in shame. No sports star would want that to happen to them.

    • February 8th 2013 @ 5:22pm
      Brendan said | February 8th 2013 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for taking the time to write to us to explain your point of view. Im all for cleaning up sport and belive in hard punishment (i.e. life bans) for those found to be cheating their respective codes.

      One question, when do you think that the proof of the these allegations will become available to the public?

      Brendan

      • Columnist

        February 9th 2013 @ 5:17am
        David Lord said | February 9th 2013 @ 5:17am | ! Report

        Kate, you have given fair and reasonable answers to a lot of questions. But my question to you is why go off half-cocked in the first place? Why didn’t you and the ACC keep a lid on the whole sorry affair until you were all further down the track with a lot more answers? Sweeping statements with no answers of how to fix the problems made a mockery of the media conference.

        • February 9th 2013 @ 5:30am
          AndyMack said | February 9th 2013 @ 5:30am | ! Report

          Good point DL, these sweeping statements dont help anyone.

          I’m all for transparency once we know the facts, but dont want to tarnish eveyone with the same brush.

          Esp Collingwood and Cronulla players…. (showing bias??)

          • February 9th 2013 @ 2:48pm
            sean maguire said | February 9th 2013 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

            Completely agree David. Why alert everyone to the investigation when the ACC can’t actually prosecute and their phone taps can’t be used in court? Surely it would have been better to allow ASADA to conduct simultaneous raids and drug testing without first alerting everyone that the gig is up. It reaks of sending out a warning and saving major sporting organisations from the blushes that would result from players being banned for using drugs. No it looks like we won’t ever get answers to who was doping and everyone will be smeared.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 10th 2013 @ 4:20pm
          Sharminator said | February 10th 2013 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

          Exactly David … Australian sport has been blacklisted internationally by this report … it has gone around the world and the next Australian sports superstar will be accused of being a drugs cheat because he is from a country of cheats, when this is far from the truth.

          The ASDA has a worldwide reputation and I cant remember the last time a top Australian athlete was caught for performance enhancing drug use.

          Releasing such a report, before any prosecutions were made, is simply irresponsible.

    • February 8th 2013 @ 5:36pm
      PhilM said | February 8th 2013 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

      Great insights here Kate and welcome to The Roar.

      It’s good to hear you’re taking action to increase the ASDA’s investigative powers, as you note:

      “Right now, if you receive a call from ASADA to attend an interview there is no punishment if you do not attend.”

      This is crazy!

    • Roar Guru

      February 8th 2013 @ 5:57pm
      Hoy said | February 8th 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

      Boy, two big articles from big names today. Fantastic stuf Roar, and thanks Kate and Robbie Deans for taking the time to write for us.

      Now…

      Reading this, something odd stood out to me:
      “If you compromise the confidentiality of the hearings you face serious legal consequences including up to a $5,000 fine or one year imprisonment.”

      Is it me, or is a $5,000 fine or 1 year jail a bit lopsided? Hmmmm. Pay $5,000 or spend a year in jail? Shouldn’t the fine be a bit higher if the alternative is 1 year jail time?

      Back on track, I don’t know which way to turn in regards to all this. One part of me thinks it will all blow over and is all huff and puff. The other half is not really surprised, but disappointed it has gotten so far.

      What is surprising is that this has been going on for over a year while the ACC investigate, and we are still none the wiser who, what, where, when, how. I would really like to have things cleared up, so I can get back to knowing who is a legit talent, and who is sus.

      • February 8th 2013 @ 6:09pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | February 8th 2013 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

        Hoy,

        I rather suspect you dont get to choose …

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2013 @ 12:58am
          Hoy said | February 9th 2013 @ 12:58am | ! Report

          I know you don’t get to choose, but it just seems a bit lopsided really. One is a smack on the bum, the other is a year in jail.

    • February 8th 2013 @ 6:05pm
      Chris of Vic said | February 8th 2013 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

      What does this mean, seriously??? There is only so much Kate can reveal. As to your comments about working Mum’s, The Circle etc, I hope you are taking the pi$$

      Thanks for this insight Kate, I reckon all Roarer’s hope that cheats and dopers are running scared right now.

      And as others have said – Congratulations to The Roar for getting more high level experts (coaches, administrators and now politicians!) to contribute to The Roar.

      PS part of my post was a reply to Beardon, but his comment seems to have disappeared, well done mods, good call on that one.

      • February 9th 2013 @ 10:53pm
        Von Neumann said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:53pm | ! Report

        Thankyou for the insight Kate, I never expected it, and am grateful for it.

        • February 10th 2013 @ 2:36am
          Von Neumann said | February 10th 2013 @ 2:36am | ! Report

          Of course the last thing I have to say is about the early release of the report and the subsequent whinging by the populace and its for Kate. Perhaps I previously attributed the news ltd story to a negative, and its a limitation of my own thinking, given I am conditioned to see it as that since News does nothing it would seem other than to write negativity about rugby league. When perhaps the early release comment in todays story would be more worthy taken as a fact only….

          In that, I can fully understand the condemnation from many quarters given that the report points fingers but is not outing anyone just now. People are conclusion seekers, we don’t operate without a story being fully told – and its why innuendo exists, ect, we need to fill in the gaps because our brains have evolved to be value-attributing machines, and logic centers – they operate on the presumption of a complete story, an answer.

          So much of the flames being fanned out there are to do with those notions and concepts.

          Side-take a moment: So, when Essedon came forward it would have been to the commissioners “the cat is out of the bag”, and perhaps it was prudent to release the story early, despite others providing contrary views. There is a price to be had for releasing the story early and we see it – incomplete story needing a meaning, and from that a lot of conjecture and unknowns and inuendo and accusations of a “half baked, half cocked” roll-out.

          But so to, the other side….IF the report was NOT released when it was, it may have jeopardized much of the work that was done. IF I was a drug dealer and I knew the essendon boys were somehow associated with what I was doing, or even just hearing about it, it would send me underground and as far away as possible. So with the cat out of the bag – one must release the report and step-up the proceedings.
          _

          So anyway, much of what I have written about before these posts was based off that notion. Its my great dismay that people cannot see the bigger picture, and for the media to sympathise with the compromised nature of what has happened. Both roads are hard, but now we are here, its clear to me the right path was chosen. Let the media play round and toy with ideas, so be it. The fact remains that it is insignificant to the real work being done, and its operationally critical that the report was released early.

          My point to people has simply been: give it time, let it happen, don’t judge harshly. This effort is up against people who don’t want to be caught, who don’t want to go to jail, who don’t want to be found out. Any means necessary must be taken.

          It may be frustrating, and no call to help will provide solace until the story has fully and really taken to its conclusion for real – and that takes time.

          To that end, I am sure much of the criticism is unfair, and I have said as much. We must wait to tell the true story of all this, and we must let our country and its law system pursue these matters with freedom to act, without public pressure calling for heads, or pointing fingers or blaming Ministers, or getting in the way.

          This is fighting crime, not getting our feelings looked after because we have slighted a few people, when typically, the wording of the report has been taken out of context and fitted to peoples pre-conceived notions of how they feel something should be. We all want and end, and this has all just brought it closer.

          I look forward to the day when we can out all the clubs/players/coaches/trainers/breeders/bodies for what they have allowed.

          Thats why I am thanking Kate, and any one else involved. I am seeing the big picture. I am not a part of it, and I will help where I can, and stay right out of the way otherwise.

    • Roar Guru

      February 8th 2013 @ 6:44pm
      langou said | February 8th 2013 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

      Thanks Kate and staff for that information

      Its been a tough few days for Oz sport fans

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