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AUSTRALIA'S sport has been rocked by revelations that organised crime is behind the increasing use of banned performance-enhancing drugs by ''multiple athletes'' across top sporting codes and possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets.
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Don't lose faith in the game: Demetriou
Cheats who use performance-enhancing drugs will be caught, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou warns.
The heads of all the major professional and participation sports expressed shock after being briefed on a 12-month investigation by the Australian Crime Commission that found professional sport in Australia was ''highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration''.
Police are now pursuing evidence that some coaches, sports scientists and support staff at clubs have orchestrated or condoned the use of banned drugs and that organised crime figures distributed the drugs.
The probe, named Project Aperio, also revealed personal relationships between professional athletes and organised criminal identities and groups that ''may have resulted in match fixing and the fraudulent manipulation of betting markets''.
It found ''clear parallels'' between what it uncovered and the investigation by the American anti-doping agency into disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.
''The difference is that the Australian threat is current, crosses sporting codes and is evolving,'' the commission's report said.
Commission chief executive officer John Lawler said on Thursday he was hopeful that criminal charges would be laid, but refused to be drawn on which individuals, clubs or codes were under investigation or when inquiries by state and federal police would be completed.
Former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority boss Richard Ings said Australians had been in denial about sports doping for too long.
''This is not a black day in Australian sport, this is the blackest day in Australian sport,'' he said.
Federal ministers urged those with knowledge of unethical or illegal behaviour to come forward, saying co-operation could lead to less severe sanctions.
''Don't underestimate how much we know, and if you are involved in this come forward before you get a knock at the door,'' said Justice Minister Jason Clare, adding that the revelations would ''disgust Australian sports fans''.
Mr Clare said ''multiple athletes'' from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes were suspected of using or having previously used performance-enhancing drugs and that officials from clubs had been identified as ''administering, via injections and intravenous drips, a variety of substances''.
The government has introduced legislation to increase ASADA's powers so that those who refuse to co-operate will be liable to civil penalties. Sports Minister Kate Lundy warned that those who wanted to dope or fix a match would be caught.
Sporting codes have also agreed to establish integrity units to deal with doping; to call on their athletes to co-operate with investigators; to share information; and to show ''zero tolerance'' for support staff involved in ''peddling inappropriate substances''.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou vowed to increase resources to combat a new generation of performance-enhancing drugs known as peptides. AFL clubs will also have their staff audited, sports science staff registered and be instructed to provide mandatory reporting of any doping issue.
In other developments:
■ Premier Ted Baillieu told Parliament that Victoria Police would establish a sporting integrity intelligence unit.''This report represents a real threat to the integrity of sport in this state,'' he said.
■ It was announced that gambling advertising during sporting events would be the subject of a federal parliamentary inquiry. The Senate passed a motion by Greens senator Richard Di Natale for a joint select committee inquiry into gambling reform. It will report to Parliament on May 16.
■ Independent senator Nick Xenephon called for an immediate suspension on sports betting. ''These extraordinary findings require an urgent response,'' he said.
■ The NRL will appoint former federal judge Tony Whitlam to set up an integrity compliance unit.
With RICHARD WILLINGHAM, ANDREW WU and ADAM COOPER