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Demetriou calls for criminal sanctions to help fight footy's drug war

Demetriou vows to catch drug cheats Sweeping new measures aimed at tackling drugs issue
Andrew Demetriou wants players who lie to investigators to face criminal sanctions - ${keywords}
Andrew Demetriou wants players who lie to investigators to face criminal sanctions

PLAYERS who lie to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs could be subject to criminal sanctions in the future, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou says.

Following the release of the Australian Crime Commission's report on Australian sport on Thursday, Demetriou conceded drug testing was no longer an effective weapon in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs, saying investigations like that into US cyclist Lance Armstrong's systematic doping were now the best means of catching drug cheats.

Similar US-based investigations have seen American sports stars such as Olympic sprinter Marion Jones and baseballer Barry Bonds questioned before grand juries about steroid use.

Both denied using drugs at the time, but Jones was subsequently sentenced to six months jail after admitting to perjury, while Bonds was convicted of giving evasive evidence and sentenced to 30 days' house arrest and two years' probation.

In conjunction with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the AFL has launched an investigation into the ACC's findings of widespread drug use in Australian sport.

Demetriou told on Friday he thought Australian athletes questioned as part of investigations might one day face criminal sanctions if found to have lied about illegal drug use.

"Absolutely I do for a number of reasons, because I think it goes to the ethics of the sport," Demetriou said.

"That's one of the issues we want to talk to state governments and the police about. That's the issue we've taken up with people who are involved in match-fixing.

"It's a very, very important component of adding some criminal weight behind a deterrent."

The ACC report also found sports scientists were enjoying an increasing influence at sports clubs, with some using that influence to push legal and regulatory boundaries with supplement programs. In some cases, sports scientists had facilitated illegal drug use, the report said.

Demetriou said some AFL clubs did not have enough control over their sports science employees, but stressed the AFL was focused on curbing their influence on medical issues.

Demetriou said that was the aim of the new AFL directive requiring clubs to expand their staff registers to include all staff who have contact with players, all of whom will be subject to appropriate background checks.

"Make no mistake the influence of sports scientists as of yesterday will become less and less," Demetriou said.

"We need to find out the real definition of sports scientist. So this register is very important. Are these people qualified? What backgrounds have they got? Where have they worked?

"It's very clear in our rules that when it comes to any medical issues the doctor has the final say.

"So there are places for high-performance managers who are there for the training and high performance, and they are in charge of that area. But, unfortunately, what we've seen is some so-called sports scientists intruding, or almost crossing the boundary, into the medical area."

Nick Bowen is a reporter with Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nick