Should the police stop investigating drugs in sport?
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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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?
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