Veteran detective Gerry Ryan. Photo: Jason South
The AFL has recruited one of Victoria's highest-ranking detectives to work as an anti-corruption investigator as part of a major revamp of its integrity department.
He is expected to work in the areas of match fixing, illegal betting, improper associations, supplement abuse, and performance-enhancing drug use and trafficking.
The move comes as professional sports in Australia have been targeted by international illegal betting syndicates as potential areas for expansion, and follows warnings from the Australian Crime Commission that some codes are vulnerable to corruption.
Illustration: Matt Golding.
Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan from Victoria Police's crime department will move to the AFL with a brief to liaise with Australian and international law-enforcement agencies that specialise in sports-related crime.
He oversaw last year's investigation into allegations that a series of Melbourne soccer games were fixed as part of an international betting scam. It resulted in six arrests.
The appointment is part of an investment by the AFL in anti-corruption measures following the Essendon supplements scandal that immersed the competition in controversy throughout the 2013 season.
New measures put in place include:
■Bans on injecting players other than for a specific medical condition.
■Tougher gambling restrictions for AFL players and officials.
■Broader integrity examinations for club officials and employees.
■Bans on undesirables from entering changing rooms and coaches' boxes.
■Mandatory reporting of anti-doping claims.
■Witness protection rules.
■Wider anti-tanking rules.
Superintendent Ryan, a 40-year police veteran, has long been involved in top-level football and has been president of VFL club Sandringham since 2006. He will resign that post with his AFL appointment.
He told Fairfax Media: ''We have seen from what has happened around the world that sport is at risk. People said match fixing would never reach Australia, but we know with the recent soccer investigation that it has.
''Asian betting is massive and Australia sits in a vulnerable position because of time zones.
''I am looking forward to working with the AFL's integrity team to protect the game and the industry.
''The supporters need to have faith in the standards maintained in the competition.''
Australian Football League general counsel Andrew Dillon said Superintendent Ryan's investigative skills and experience would be strong assets in the integrity area.
''Gerard Ryan is uniquely suited to this important role. He has a deep understanding of the Australian football environment and also an intimate knowledge of the risks that Australian sport faces from corruption, drugs and organised crime,'' Mr Dillon said.
''In addition to many significant achievements at Victoria Police, he was more recently senior investigating officer in Operation Starlings, which investigated allegations of match fixing within the Victorian Premier League, and he has managed Purana taskforce's collaboration with Victoria Police's sporting integrity intelligence unit in relation to a number of sport-related investigations for Victoria.''