Australian sport has been warned that the new World Anti-Doping Code, due to come into effect next year, could have serious implications for coaches, trainers and support personnel linked to a drugs scandal.
The warning came from Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates during the organisation's annual general meeting today in Sydney, and was a thinly veiled reference to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation of support personnel as part of its National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL) inquiries.
ASADA's inquiries were launched as a result of a year-long investigation by the Australian Crime Commission, which called a media conference in February 2013 - dubbed the "darkest day in Australian sport" - announcing it had uncovered evidence of widespread use of banned drugs and also links to organised crime.
The scandal is top of the agenda of new ASADA chief executive, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Ben McDevitt, who officially started his role today.
"The new WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) rules will catch athletes' support personnel who may have previously been outside the jurisdiction," said Coates in a speech to delegates.
"The 2015 Code amendments support the increasing importance of investigations and use of intelligence in the fight against doping which has received quite some prominence here in Australia over the last 18 months.
"Most pleasingly, amendments to the [World Anti-Doping] Code have been included to better reach athlete support personnel who are involved in doping.
"We know that doping frequently involves coaches, trainers, or other athlete support personnel and in many cases those athlete support personnel were outside the jurisdiction of anti-doping authorities."
The new WADA Code, due to be effective from January 1, 2015, increases the penalty for real cheats caught doping from two years to four but Coates placed more emphasis on the new provisions dealing with athletes' support personnel.
"No longer will they be untouchable, able to evade the anti-doping net, instead they will face the music," said Coates, who is also vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.
"For some years now the international sports movement has been aware the athletes were not acting alone, the athletes entourage had to be involved.
"Pleasingly, WADA has agreed.
"Clearly it is not enough to just focus on the athletes, others need to be held accountable."
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