Aussie sports still in dark a year after 'blackest day'

Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:06am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The release of an explosive report into the use of performance-enhancing drugs among Australian athletes prompted the country's former anti-doping chief Richard Ings to describe February 7, 2013 as the "blackest day" in the country's sporting history.

A year on and with only one athlete punished as a result of Australia's biggest anti-doping investigation, Ings defended his statement as a reaction to a rap-sheet of serious allegations mouthed by politicians at a highly publicized news conference.

"We will catch you," the then-Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy, flanked by grim-faced heads of major sports, told television cameras on the day the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report was released.

"We are well on the way to seeking out and hunting down those who will dope and cheat."

Jason Clare, who was home affairs minister at the time, also warned: "Don't underestimate how much we know. Come forward before you get a knock at the door."

Investigators from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) have knocked on doors but only rugby league player Sandor Earl, who was provisionally suspended in August after admitting to the use and trafficking of a banned peptide, has been sanctioned.

"My reaction was based on what was said on that day and who said it," Ings, ASADA head from 2006-10, told an internet forum hosted by Reuters on Wednesday.

"Reflecting back, we had the federal justice minister, federal sports minister, ACC CEO, ASADA CEO and heads of every major sport saying: 'This is not just athletes cheating, this is athletes cheating with criminals.'   Continued...