Coalition to get serious on policing

Should the police stop investigating drugs in sport?

Coalition to get serious on policing

The Opposition’s justice spokesman Michael Keenan believes it’s time for the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) to start chasing “serious criminals” and let the proper authorities investigate drugs in sport.

The ACC has used its powers, such as phone taps, to aid its investigation into drugs in sport and has uncovered the involvement of organised crime in the supply and also in the fixing of matches for financial gain. The report has led to the current focus of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) on NRL and AFL clubs. However, Michael Keenan believes it is now time for ASADA to take over the investigation and leave the ACC to get back to trying to hunt down bikie gangs and “crime kingpins”.

Speaking on ABC TV, Mr Keenan said, "The Crime Commission is the most powerful law-enforcement agency in the country ... (and) they [it] should be focusing on the most serious criminals that we do have and that's what we will direct them to do if we do get a chance to govern after September,"

He also said that the anti-doping authorities should be given the resources to deal with doping.

When asked if this directive clashed with the findings of the ACC that organised crime were involved in match-fixing, he said, "They have [it has] looked extensively at this and I think it's now time for ASADA to take the running on it."

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Opinion: Leave it to those who know

The extensive investigation by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) into drugs in sport not only found that organised crime gangs were behind the supply of drugs, but also that they were at the centre of match-fixing claims. This undermines the integrity of sport and also highlights yet another means by which organised crime is able to fund more serious illegal practices.

I therefore find it strange that the Opposition’s justice spokesman would say that it is time for the ACC to leave the investigation to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). ASADA simply do not have the skill, or the brief to follow up on claims of match-fixing or the supply of drugs by crime lords. By all means it should be responsible for taking forward the issues raised by the ACC which directly relate to clubs and sportspeople taking unauthorised drugs, but what happens to the other revelations? And do we end up with two authorities doubling-up to investigate the same perpetrators of crime?

Surely the ACC is an independent body and, as such, it should not be directed by any government as to which investigations it should undertake? For our justice system to work effectively and with full integrity, autonomy must be given to those who have the powers and skill to uncover illegal actions.

Organised crime has infiltrated many walks of life over the past few decades and it now seems that sport is the focus of its intentions. There can be little to gain from politicians directing the country’s highest law enforcement agency as to which areas it should investigate. This is a potential abuse of political power and is the first step on the slippery slope to a corrupt and potentially ineffective legal system.

Should any government have the right to direct a law enforcement agency on which cases it should investigate? Or has the ACC involvement in the sports-doping saga run its course?


    To make a comment, please register or login
    29th Apr 2013
    It is all very well to leave things to the experts, but some things manage to fall in the cracks. If I want justice where it is being denied, where do I go?
    To my elected member, of course. I can only ASK a reluctant official; he can DEMAND. That is how corruption in high places is uncovered.
    29th Apr 2013
    Treouble with drugs in sort as has been seen lately there is far too much nonsense being sprouted here & there, sometimes damaging somebidy's reputation even though it has been proven to be a lot o9f hogwash like tha which happened in the recent NRL hogwash.
    29th Apr 2013
    Now I'm confused. I thought we had a Federal Police Force. I think the role of the Government is to define just what each law enforcement's role is and who they refer to. That is where the polies role should end and allow each agency to get on with what they do best. "catch the bad guys
    29th Apr 2013
    Agree with wombat - the govt's job is to set policies and allow the agencies to get on with the job, not to interfere in individual cases - isn't this the separation of law and state?! Additionally, tasking bodies with vested interests to solely investigate is inviting corruption and cover-ups
    29th Apr 2013
    Did I read correctly .... " ... chasing “serious criminals” and let the proper authorities investigate drugs in sport. ..." Drugs in sport is not a serious crime?? Any use of illicit drugs is a crime plus it can lead to death! Isn't killing a crime?? Drugs in society is a huge problem. Maybe (just maybe) the AFP and other law enforcement departments could share information and work in uni-some with each other (I know they don't like that but .... !) To investigate crime is certainly NOT why I elected my government representative. I understand politicians usually have a degree in Law, but that doesn't make them any more qualified than I to want the ACC to leave the ASADA investigation. These two have uncovered a lot of illegal drug use and there is still more to come. While the ACC and ASADA are working together (and sharing information for once!) let them finish this investigation. Let them learn to CO-OPERATE !!

    I have to ask why Mr. Keenan wants to change the investigation.
    29th Apr 2013
    Two issues. Doping in sport to enhance performance and secondly, the subsequent criminal activities to make a financial or other gains from such doping. Personalised doping is dumb and eventually leads to health problems. Let the ASADA deal with the low level personal use of drugs for performance enhansing. However, once this doping is suspected to be linked to third party financial gain (or loss), then let the relevant criminal investination authorities swap/collect info and deal with with it.
    As far as the pollies go; yes, make the legislation and then butt out and let the experts deal with it. As 'Student' said: "CO-OPERATE".
    29th Apr 2013
    Politicians owe too many people favors to allow them to dictate who and who shouldn't be pursued.All law enforcement bodies have their roles clearly defined and politicians should butt out.
    29th Apr 2013
    Let the Parliament make laws, with the blessing of the people, and then allow the Police to do their job, there are avenues to pursue if one is disatisfied,
    The system should be squeaky clean, and relentlessy guarded against corruption.And the punishment for any corruption should be severe.
    29th Apr 2013
    People, you shouldn't get all hot and bothered about some politician pontificating about this or any other matter.
    It was purely political from the outset when two ministers in our pathetic apology for a government called a press conference, using the nominal heads of the major sports as props to create a "sensation" which had no real purpose other than to provide some distraction to the relentless (and justified) criticism of their performance.
    To the extent that a problem even exists, it was grossly overstated and the subsequent timing of investigations has been appalling with no substantive action taken in more than 10 weeks. All that they succeeded in doing was to create a destructive environment for a bunch of athletes that clearly impacted on their on-field performances since then.
    These nincompoops have, fairly successfully, managed to arouse public sentiment against a time honoured practice of athletes looking for that little bit "extra" in performance. Hey!, they are not snorting cocaine or mainlining smack. They were dutifully ingesting what was put in front of them by people that they had every reason to believe and trust.
    29th Apr 2013
    if ASADA has evidence that footy players are taking performance enhancing/banned substances, they are sure taking their time about getting this matter sorted out. Admittedly Lance Armstrong led them all a merry dance for years before he finally owned up to the allegations. Maybe this proves he was cleverer than the drug testers? Anyway, the whole thing seems to be a witch hunt that has been started prematurely, perhaps for political (re Kate Lundy the Commonwealth Sports minister) reasons, If they are trying to get the athletes to dob in their mates, it does not look as if they have solid evidence to back up their allegations. I would not be surprised to see the whole thing fizzle out.
    Tom Tank
    29th Apr 2013
    Trying to prove the allegations that have been made is difficult and time consuming and ASADA does not have the power that the NCC has. If bikie gangs are involved then that is a serious matter and requires the full attention of law enforcement.
    To say that athletes taking drugs is a time honoured practice is surely a ridiculous statement, or one hopes that it is.
    Paddles and Wally seem to be siding with the politician who is playing the usual game of being negative about whatever the government is doing.
    I know for a fact that footballers were always the most difficult athletes to provide the required sample for drug testing so make your decision on that and please don't let your tribal association with any code or team colour your view about the use of drugs in sport.
    30th Apr 2013
    I am sick of tghe coalition's "Great Ideas" for that is all they truly are they are always going to do something better than the government. Not that it isn't possible but Tony Abbot & Joe Hockey - give me a break.I do not believe anybody who has spoken so far would make this a better country.
    3rd May 2013
    So why was the commonwealth sports minister so prominent in announcing the investigation into drug taking in sport? Why did she do it, and what was she hoping to gain?

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