Months after probe,Aussies yet to name drug cheats

Six months after Australia’s top criminal intelligence unit alleged widespread doping in Australian sport

Written by Reuters | Melbourne | Published: August 7, 2013 3:10 am

Six months after Australia’s top criminal intelligence unit alleged widespread doping in Australian sport,investigators have interviewed dozens of athletes,compiled a brick-like report of their findings and failed to release the name of a single offender.

The February 7 release of the Australian Crime Commission report was dramatically staged in Canberra and sent shockwaves through the country with a former chief of the national anti-doping authority dubbing it the “blackest day” in Australian sport.

The same authority announced a probe “unprecedented” in its scale in Australia targeting the country’s two most popular football leagues but,barring the stingiest drip-feed of updates,has resolutely declined to shed any light in the gloom.

The snail’s pace of the investigation has tested the patience of Australian sports fans,journalists and pundits alike — all of them perhaps more used to the speedy resolution of the disciplinary hearing.

The leagues,too,are keen to get the issue out of the way before the showpiece playoffs that form the climax of the season for winter sports in Australia.

Most importantly,the delays have fuelled speculation and rumour,tainting the innocent along with the guilty,if there are any,at the clubs on which the probe has concentrated.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s (ASADA) latest missive on Friday was to announce the fruits of their work had been passed on to the Australian Football League (AFL),the governing body of the popular indigenous code,Australian Rules.

The AFL has been rocked by allegations of cheating at the Essendon Bombers,one of its most storied clubs,where the use of exotic supplements in 2012 contributed to a “disturbing picture of a pharmacologically experimental environment”,according to an independent review commissioned by the club.

MUSCLE GROWTH

At the heart of the allegations are peptides,short chains of amino acids which athletes can take in supplement form to aid muscle growth and re-generation. Essendon’s top player and captain Jobe Watson sensationally admitted on a television chat show in June that he believed he had taken a drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The club’s chairman quit last month,one of a string of officials and coaches to depart amid the scandal,and yet still not one player has been punished.

ASADA’s 400-page report submitted to the AFL on Friday referenced more than 13,000 supporting documents,including transcripts from more than 130 interviews with witnesses.

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