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CEO wins big tick for handling of scandal

"He has probably earned six months of learning in about two weeks'' ... John Grant on David Smith.

"He has probably earned six months of learning in about two weeks'' ... John Grant on David Smith. Photo: Anthony Johnson

AUSTRALIAN sport's so-called darkest day could prove the making of the new NRL chief executive, Dave Smith, with ARL Commission chairman John Grant saying the doping and match-fixing scandal had sped up his transition into the job.

Smith was contacted by the Australian Crime Commission the day before he officially started the role on February 1 and briefed about the allegations in the NRL and AFL.

He then met with the bosses of Australia's other major sporting codes on February 4 and joined them for a press conference in Canberra three days later with Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy, Justice Minister Justin Clare and ACC chief John Lawler.

''You make decisions on key appointments like Dave and you base it on a resume that you get, you set a criteria around the job and a set of questions that go with that criteria and probably three interviews,'' Grant said.

''Then he joins and immediately you get an event like this and you look at the way he handles it and you go, 'I think we were right'. It is very comforting to us and he has probably earned six months of learning in about two weeks.''

Speaking after Thursday's inaugural ARLC members meeting and annual meeting, Grant said the game had one of the best testing regimes in the world but the people producing performance-enhancing drugs were ahead of those trying to detect their use.

He revealed the establishment of the NRL's integrity unit had been expedited after the stunning findings in the ACC report, which prompted former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings to describe February 7 as the darkest day in Australian sport.

''The problem with the current testing regime is that it doesn't have tests to identify the new drugs,'' Grant said.

''You have got the guys in the laboratories generating new things aimed exclusively at beating the current tests.''

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