This article is from the October 7 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition. To subscribe, visit http://www.heraldsun.com.au/.
ASADA’S NEW BOSS WANTS TO STOP CROOKS IN SPORT
AUSTRALIA’s new sports anti-doping boss has first-hand experience of unscrupulous people enticing young athletes to use banned drugs to cheat.
“It was back in 1986 when I first played rugby league for the Canberra Raiders juniors as an 18-year-old ,” David Sharpe said.
“Steroids were around in the 1980s — the peptides of today were a thing developed later — it was all steroids back then.
“I don’t mean everyone was using them, but the pressure to use steroids for improved size and performance was real.
“I’ll admit I was approached. I was small to play rugby league at that level and I was approached around my size.
“I said no to the drugs and I was very proud of the fact that I was small and still succeeded in playing at a reasonable level for so many years without them.”
Mr Sharpe played first grade for many years in the Canberra Raiders Cup and later spent two years as the NRL Raiders manager.
He recently took over as chief executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority after 30 years with the Australian Federal Police.
During his AFP career he held many senior roles, including heading up the force’s counter-terrorism unit, being in charge of the serious and organised crime team and up until last month was the assistant commissioner responsible for protecting the security of Australia’s airports, Parliament House, the prime minister and visiting heads of state.
Mr Sharpe told the Herald Sun his AFP experience investigating crime will be put to good use in his new ASADA role as he works with law enforcement to disrupt the performance-enhancing drug trade in sport.
In his first interview since taking up the ASADA job on September 25, Mr Sharpe also revealed:
ORGANISED crime gangs could exploit athletes by providing inducements, such as drugs and prostitutes, in the hope of corrupting them so they can later use them to make money by gambling on matches the compromised athletes help them fix.
ASADA’S “dob in a drug cheat” hotline will be greatly enhanced and expanded to encourage more athletes to anonymously report people who are doping themselves up with performance-enhancing drugs and identify the dodgy coaches and others who are giving or selling banned substances to athletes.
AN unprecedented anti-doping blitz by ASADA on athletes heading to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast will see several hundred of them tested and their samples stored for 10 years — so even if they pass they might be busted in years to come as the blood and urine samples will be retested as better technology becomes available.
ONE of the scariest things about the Essendon drugs scandal is the offending players were injected with substances that haven’t been approved for human use, so the shortand long-term health effects are still a mystery.
ASADA investigators now have more than 70 probes on the go into allegations ranging from unscrupulous doctors and anti-ageing clinics providing athletes with banned substances to rogue athletes sourcing their own substances from offshore websites.
Mr Sharpe yesterday said the amount of difficult-to-detect synthetic performanceenhancing drugs being produced meant ASADA could no longer rely on just blood and urine tests to detect cheats.
This is why the agency is increasingly relying on gaining evidence and intelligence about users, manufacturers and suppliers of banned drugs through investigative techniques.
“ASADA is one of the few doping agencies that, following a positive test, conducts an investigation ,” Mr Sharpe said.
“The reason being, we want to understand where the banned substances come from, how it was distributed and what its effects are.
“We are not here just to punish athletes. We are here to help clean up the sport more broadly and protect athletes from the threats around them.”
Mr Sharpe said ASADA will establish much closer links with law enforcement and other agencies so as to ensure greatly enhanced intelligence sharing.
Mr Sharpe’s years of experience probing organised crime will also be a valuable asset in his new ASADA role.
“Obviously sport, when you look at the integrity of sport now and the money that’s involved through match-fixing , the illicit betting markets, it is a big area that can be targeted by organised crime,” he said.
“Wherever there is a commodity that you can make money out of, organised crime will infiltrate it.
“Sport is no different — there is money to be made on sport, such as the betting markets — it will be infiltrated.
“My goal is for ASADA, in partnership with law enforcement across the country, to better co-ordinate intelligence sharing, to better utilise intelligence from not just law enforcement agencies but also the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Border Force and other agencies with access to intelligence relevant to keeping sport clean.
“What I bring to the table is an ability to bring those people to ASADA’s table to find a common goal as to why we should all work together and how we can better exchange intelligence.
“I want to work much more closely with sporting bodies and much more closely with athletes to help understand what leads athletes to cheat, where they are getting the drugs from and what we can do to stop that.”
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