Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Turning the Crime Commission into the Real Sports Villain

So is the real villain in Aussie sport the Australian Crime Commission, closely followed by the Federal government? From the ACC website:
'As an agency we provide intelligence, investigation and criminal database services.

...We are a niche, complementary agency that delivers specialist capabilities and intelligence to other agencies in the law enforcement community and broader government.

...The ACC can draw on special coercive powers which enable it to source information that cannot be accessed through traditional policing methods.'
So they're a small, secret and apparently toothless mob (in the Aussie sense of course). The latest report is part of Project Aperio which investigated 'the extent of use of PIEDs by professional athletes, the size of this market and the extent of organised criminal involvement.' It is supposed to provide 'an important opportunity for Government, regulatory bodies and the sporting industry to address these issues head on'. It is a follow-up to their 2010–11 Illicit Drug Data Report.

According to the ministerial statement by Jason Clare and Kate Lundy:
'The Australian Crime Commission has referred its findings in relation to suspected criminal activity to relevant law enforcement agencies including the Australian Federal Police and all State and Territory Police Forces.

ASADA [Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority] and other regulatory agencies will undertake additional investigations on the basis of the Crime Commission findings.'
The thinnest parts of the report concern organised crime links, and match-fixing. The hot bits are in the full report no doubt. The ACC works and reports in secrecy it seems. It will be interesting to see if any prosecutions result or is it just a “wake-up call”.

Part of ASADA role is to enforce 'any breach of a policy by ensuring those violating anti-doping rules are prosecuted and sanctioned'. According to its media release:
'...it has met with the two major sporting codes following the commencement of its formal investigation in late January 2013.
During the course of ASADA’s investigation, it will approach individual clubs as required to complete its investigative work.'
Unfortunately for those who would like names named:
'ASADA is not able to talk publicly about its investigation of these codes and that includes speculating about, or naming clubs or individuals until such time as its legislation permits.

This ensures the integrity of the investigation and the privacy of any individual under investigation is protected.'
It seems that all those innocents in the sports industry who are currently outraged about the ACC processes have nothing to fear but... possibly unavoidable collateral damage such as loss of sponsorships. The alternative seems to be keeping the public in the dark about the extent of the problems surrounding sports doping, match-fixing and criminal connections.

Sponsors can take Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Pottharst's advice: 'Time for sponsors to put their $'s in clean sports and Aussies that don't cheat'.

The ACC was established by the Howard government in 2002. Its powers, and those of similar bodies, reflect our lack of vigilance following September 11,2001.

It didn’t take long for the conspiracy theorists to decide that the government had released the report to deflect publicity from itself. I favour the alternative: Pope Benedict has fallen on his sword to save Aussie sport.

For some early responses in the blogosphere and twitterverse, please see:

Australian Sport: Drugs, Match Fixing Linked to Organised Crime

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