New ASADA boss says show cause notices could be issued 'within weeks'

New ASADA boss says show cause notices could be issued 'within weeks'

Australia's recently-installed anti-doping boss Ben McDevitt says show cause notices could be issued in relation to performance-enhancing drug use at AFL and NRL clubs within weeks.

Mr McDevitt, who started work as chief executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority last month, told a Senate hearing late on Tuesday the agency was approaching the task with "urgency" but it did not want to "sacrifice certainty for speed".

"We do have reputations hanging in the balance and potentially people’s careers could be damaged. We want to do it quickly but we want to get it right... we are talking weeks here, not months," he said.

Mr McDevitt rejected suggestions that progress had been slow, 17 months after it was publicly announced by the then-Labor government at a dramatic press conference on what became known as the "blackest day in sport".

"There are some examples of cases offshore... involving one athlete in one sporting code, and you’re talking three years plus. So when you’re talking two sports, multiple athletes, perhaps we might see the 17 months a little more in context," he said.

Mr McDevitt said since taking over at ASADA he had had "a couple" of conversations with former World Anti-Doping Agency boss John Fahey, who recently publicly criticised the former Labor government for calling what he suggested was a politically-motivated press conference which had hampered the subsequent investigation and unfairly tarred some athletes' reputations.


"Mr Fahey is obviously entitled to his views on how an investigation might be conducted," Mr McDevitt said. "I would tend to agree that privacy of the individual is critically important here."

He said in his first 17 days on the job he had had "a couple of conversations" with incoming AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and had met NRL boss David Smith once.

Mr McDevitt said he had read a report on the AFL and NRL cases completed by retired federal court judge Garry Downes, which was handed to ASADA on April 28.

But he said he was yet to digest the "enormous amount of material" gathered in the investigation, which included more than 300 interviews running as long as nine hours each, and 150,000 documents, some of which were up to 200 pages long.

Correction: This article incorrectly stated that ASADA would issue infraction notices, not show cause

Dan Harrison

Dan Harrison is Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent for Fairfax Media. He is based in Canberra.

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