Doping report a warning to crime groups

The head of the Australian Crime Commission has revealed its controversial drugs in sport report was more about prevention than reaction, focusing on stopping organised crime groups infiltrating the country's favourite codes rather than catching those previously responsible.

ACC chief executive John Lawler told Fairfax Media the report released last Thursday was a "shot across the bow" to crime groups identified associating and working with sports clubs, players and managers.

"We don't want to give them (criminals) too much detail, who we are on to. But we've given a broadside to those organised criminals to say we're aware of what you're up to," he said.

When the report was released last week, Richard Ings, the former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), said: "This is not a black day in Australian sport, this is the blackest."

But sports players, commentators and fans have begun questioning the report's veracity as confusion reigns over who was involved and to what extent.

Mr Lawler said the most important aspect of the report was highlighting sports' "risks and vulnerabilities".

"I don't mean to be trite about it. But this is only one part of the puzzle, what's happened in the past, the most important part is to harden the environment," Mr Lawler told told Fairfax Media in an extended interview on Saturday.

"How do we work with the police and codes and the players to harden the environment and make a long-term impact so that people are protected – that's what the Commission is on about."

Mr Lawler said "complex and interwoven structures" prevented the ACC from exposing the individuals or groups identified by their intelligence.

But it is expected on Monday or Tuesday that the NRL code will inform clubs if they have been fingered.

On Monday, Fairfax Media reports that at least seven and as many as nine AFL clubs have been found by the ACC to be vulnerable to illicit drug activity and similarly exposed to organised crime activity.

"I am a glass-half-full person," Mr Lawler said. "I am saying there are very strong preventive and public safety and very import messages to stop the criminals doing what they are doing now through making this public."

On Sunday evening NRL chief executive Dave Smith said the NRL was working urgently with Tony Whitlam, QC, to establish a "formal set of procedures with the ACC" through which information could be passed to the clubs.

However, once notified, the clubs have no obligation to tell the public if they have been accused of doping.

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