'You can't rely on tests alone' - WADA calls in sleuths
"Testing is not doing thejob of cleaning sport out by itself" ... World Anti-Doping Authority director general David Howman. Photo: Craig Golding
NRL players and other athletes using performance-enhancing substances are set to be detected through investigative means as well as drugs tests, World Anti-Doping Authority director general David Howman has warned.
While Manly and Cronulla were quick to point out after meeting ASADA representatives on Tuesday that none of their players had failed a drugs test, Howman said doping authorities were relying more and more on other means to catch cheats.
Players have been warned their phones might have been tapped or they might have been placed under surveillance during an investigation by the Australian Crime Commission after customs intercepted a drugs haul about 18 months ago. Howman said such measures were becoming more common in the fight against drugs and the Lance Armstrong case showed that cheats could expect to be caught even if they did not fail a doping test.
''You can't rely on drug tests alone to catch all the cheats who are doping in sport using science,'' Howman told Fairfax Media.
''If you look at all of the figures that we have released you will see that in 2010 there were only 37 EPO cases worldwide and 47 in 2011, so you have got to sit back and say testing is not doing the job of cleaning sport out by itself.
''Five or six years ago we started thinking about gathering evidence in other ways, and that is when we linked in with Interpol and World Customs. ASADA were one of the first anti-doping agencies to lead the way and form relationships with the police and customs in Australia.
''I think in Australia this thing started because customs found a few parcels and that is one thing many countries don't have - a pretty alert customs department. It would happen in other countries if they had the same commitment.''
Howman said organised crime was behind the increased threat of drugs and corruption in sport around the world, and he called for the establishment of a global integrity organisation.
''The only way international sport is really going to cope with this is to be committed,'' he said.
''This is about making a fast buck, that is where the money comes in, and sport is providing more and more money - not only for the sportspeople but for those who surround them. With money comes greed and I am afraid that with greed comes crime.
''Sport is providing them with a lot of opportunities to get entrenched. I think about 25 per cent of world sport is now susceptible to the criminal underworld.''
Asked about comparisons between the allegations against NRL and AFL players and the Armstrong case, Howman said: ''Armstrong was systematic doping in a team over a really long period of time, and that is not like this thing''.
However, he warned that the NRL and other sporting bodies needed to remain vigilant.
''This wouldn't have been exposed if Australia weren't so good at doing the work that they are doing so in some ways,'' Howman said. ''Australia has led the way in much of the fight against doping.
''But this has been happening under the watch of all of those who are responsible for running world sport and that is a sad thing. I don't think it is an anti-doping authority's job - it is the responsibility of those who run sport and they can call upon us to give them some help where necessary.''