Australia's athletes are risking being coerced into match-fixing by criminal organisations supplying them with performance-enhancing drugs, according to the damning report handed down by the Australian Crime Commission yesterday.
Federal Justice Minister Jason Clare highlighted the frightening link between the prevalence of banned drugs and professional sport in Australia, which was uncovered in ACC findings, and the other major finding of the report - fraudulent manipulation of matches and betting markets.
Mr Clare revealed the influence organised crime has in distributing performance and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDS) to players across numerous Australian codes, alleging there were compound pharmacies working in conjunction with criminal organisations.
"But it's also identified the risk and in one case the reality of potential match-fixing," Mr Clare said.
"Wherever criminals are involved in influencing players, there is the risk that they will use that influence over players to fix matches ... we've identified information that suggests that that had happened on one occasion.
"And the crime commission has referred that information to the relevant authorities for further investigation."
ACC chief executive John Lawler said match-fixing would always be a threat whenever criminals were involved and warned that athletes exposed themselves to enormous risks, and were in danger of being exploited, if they engaged in relationships with these groups.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton noted a recent A-League soccer match in Melbourne attracted $40 million in bets from a single Asia-based bookmaker.
Cricket and tennis games were also at risk of match-fixing with crime figures drawn to these large betting pools, he said.
"Any sport that is attracting significant betting offshore is at a major risk," he said.
"The increasing betting pools mean that we need to take preventative action now to make these sports more resilient to this threat."
He said players needed to be educated against being groomed by crime figures to lure them into match-fixing or spot-fixing.
Mr Ashton said police had been prevented from notifying sporting codes of people believed to be involved in doping because the information came from wire taps and couldn't be shared.
Mr Lawler said criminals would exploit and corrupt vulnerable athletes.
"Organised crime is about money, by any means, by any route," he said.
"They are corrupt, they have no respect for rule of law, or for individuals' rights or privacies.
"Organised crime has many facets - it will go to where there is lucrative profits to be made, low risk, regulatory weakness.
"And they will exploit those [who are] vulnerable. They will exploit people.
"They will exploit the players in the codes and corrupt them, seek inside information and ultimately fix matches," Mr Lawler said.
"Additionally, there are large amounts of money at stake here, through betting arrangements that are now global and this adds an additional incentive for organised crime to be involved.
"It's a threat that is extraordinarily serious."