By David Owen

John Coates_17-10-12October 18 - John Coates, the head of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), has called for the country's anti-doping body to be handed stronger investigative powers, including authority to compel witnesses to give evidence.

Coates (pictured top), who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), made the suggestion in a letter to Kate Lundy, the Australian Sports Minister.

"In order to improve (the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) ASADA's investigations and intelligence capabilities," Coates wrote, "I suggest that the Government should again consider strengthening ASADA's powers to investigate allegations of doping practices by including the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence and to produce documents relevant to such investigations."

Coates was responding to a comment in which the Minister stated that the Australian Government, through ASADA, was "committed to protecting the health of athletes and the integrity of Australian sport through the elimination of doping".

ASADA, she said, was "constantly improving their techniques and tools, including their investigations and intelligence capabilities, long term storage facilities and profiling approaches".

Coates has long believed that more must be done to combat drugs in sport.

He backed the creation of ASADA seven years ago, but argued that the body had not been assigned what he saw as the necessary and appropriate investigative powers.

The latest comments come at a time when doping is once again at the top of the international sports agenda following publication of a report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accusing the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team of running "the most sophisticated professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]