SPORTS medicine pioneer and former Dragons club doctor Tony Millar warned federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy that codes such as the NRL and AFL will never be drug free.
Millar, who was the St George doctor during the last eight of their record 11 consecutive premierships and founded the country's first sports medicine clinic in Lewisham, has written to Lundy over the Australian Crime Commission report into doping and match-fixing.
He told Lundy there had always been rumours of drug-taking and he had witnessed players being handed tablets containing a ''useless substance'' but he was not aware of any systematic doping program in the game.
Millar said ''innuendo'' created by the ACC report had effected innocent players and he also questioned how anti-doping authorities determined which substances were on the banned list. ''Testing, banning and punishing have never solved any problem and will not settle this one,'' said Millar, comparing attempts to ban drugs with the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the 1930s. ''There is evidence that cheating goes on in the highest levels in sport. [But] the whole emphasis in the banning program is on the sportsperson and there is no penalty on the coaches and club officials.
''My interest and concern is that the athlete will be forced on the blackmarket with the potential of permanent harm that can be caused by impurities, as happened in the prohibition era with alcohol.''
Millar, who admitted administering ''low-level performers'' with steroids as a ''harm reduction'' initiative rather than them buying drugs illegally, said a similar approach would ''protect the athletes and reduce the overall usage''.
''There is no evidence testing will eradicate this problem in top-level sport,'' he said. ''The Police Minister admitted that only a few are caught and this costs us billions.''