Anti-doping pleas for help ignored

COLLINGWOOD'S Gary Pert has stood out like a beacon over the past couple of weeks - a sports administrator who's prepared to stand up and speak out when he thinks he's got a problem that he can't solve.

In marked contrast were Port Adelaide's new president David Koch and AFL Players Association boss Matt Finnis - one happy to resort to populist-based belittlement of anti-doping procedures and the other content to stick his head in the sand.

Kochie used his morning television program to fire off about the way out-of- competition tests were conducted, implying that testers had flown from Australia to the US to take samples from AFL players training there.

His comments showed a lack of leadership and awareness of the circumstances - for only rarely, and then only if there is some other purpose for them being there, are Australian-based doping officials used for testing in the US.

He was obviously also blissfully unaware that athletes were able to nominate one hour of the day during which they could be tested.

Instead of Finnis taking the opportunity to embrace Pert's call and the AFL's response in organising a summit on the matter next month, he used a newspaper column to go over old ground, seemingly denying the possibility of a need for review.

It's been a bit of a year for cries for help in sport.

While reluctant to take Pert's approach - until, many would argue, it is now way too late - International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid has conceded that some help may be useful to his organisation.

Sadly, however, the proposed independent commission he has set up with the assistance of Australian John Coates to investigate the sport's doping problem appears to have hit a major snag even before it gets under way, with the World Anti-Doping Agency saying that it may not be able to co-operate unless the terms of reference are clarified or broadened.

All over the world, governing bodies have been sending out their own pleas for assistance with a concerted effort across the globe to crack down on game-fixing, but most sports have little or no chance of making any inroads in this area without the support of administrators, officials and participants at all levels.

Awareness of the problems and education, along with peer pressure, will probably be as effective as any other measure because effective policing is near- impossible and the potential costs would be enormous.

In the US, a movement has sprung up, mostly among elite track and field athletes, to advocate their own cry for help and recognition.

We Demand Change is calling for a sea change in the approach to revenue distribution from the Olympics.

They argue that substantial increases in income earned by the IOC and Games organisers justify an abandonment of restrictions on athletes supporting their own sponsors and even the introduction of prizemoney. So far, no one seems to be listening.

In Australia, the cries were for more public money and support in the face of what were portrayed as poor results at the London Olympics, and better governance and administration in the sports that were responsible for those outcomes.

The response has been inquiries set up in several sports and a new Australian Sports Commission strategy, Australia's Winning Edge 2012-2022.

Such circumstances after an Olympics are not all that unusual, but Pert's calls for help are. Hopefully, they too will be taken seriously.

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