By Duncan Mackay

John Coates in front of AOC logoFebruary 7 - John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, today urged stars and officials involved in professional sports implicated in the country's biggest-ever doping and match-fixing scandal to be harshly punished. 

The report was the result of a one-year probe by the Australian Crime Commission into the use of drugs, both performance enhancing and recreational, as well as the association of organised crime.

Coates, an influential member of the International Olympic Committee's ruling Executive Board and President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has been calling for tougher measures on doping and illegal betting for the past decade.

"Because of the criminal element exposed today the penalties must be severe," he said.

"I join the major professional sports in saying to those involved in illegal activities in sport that now is the time to put your hand up and tell ASADA (the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency) what you know.

"As of today you will get caught.

"For some cheats the knock at the door has not come yet, but it will come.

"Recent events in cycling have shown this to be true."

Publication of organised crime and drugs in sport report Canberra February 7 2013The publication of the report by the Australian Crime Commission has sent shockwaves through sport in a country which has always prided itself on fair play

The report claimed that organised crime was involved in the distribution of the drugs, which exposes players to the possibility of being co-opted into match-fixing,

"The findings are shocking and they will disgust Australian sports fans," Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said at a news conference today in Canberra.

"[It] has found the use of substances, including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs, is widespread amongst professional athletes.

"We are talking about multiple athletes across a number of codes.

"We're talking about a number of teams.

"The findings indicate the drugs are being facilitated by sports scientists, coaches, support staff as well as doctors and pharmacists.

"In some cases, sports scientists and others are orchestrating the doping of entire teams.

"In some cases, players are being administered substances which have not yet been approved for human use."

Specific players, teams and sports were not revealed for legal reasons but rugby league has admitted that they are implicated in the report.

Cricket and football, however, insisted that they were not involved. 

Coates warned it would be naive for Olympic sports to think they are immune from the widespread problems outlined in the report.

He said education was the key to ridding sports of performance-enhancing drugs, illicit drugs and systematic match-fixing.

"Elite athletes are well aware of their responsibilities when it comes to anti-doping and illegal betting," he said.

"Our focus needs to be on the sub-elite, the athletes on the way up, and junior sport.

"Much more work needs to be done here."

Kate Lundy at press conference Canberra February 7 announcing drugs reportSports Minister Kate Lundy promised action against anyone caught using drugs

Australian Sports Minister Kate Lundy warned that the Government would take whatever action they could.

"If you want to dope and cheat, we will catch you, if you want to fix a match, we will catch you," Sports Minister Kate Lundy told reporters.

Lundy warned evidence of breaches of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code would be passed on to ASADA for further investigation, while the agency's authority would be reinforced by legislation.

Lundy said the major sports codes would establish "integrity units" to counter doping and match-fixing, would cooperate with police and ASADA on investigations and encourage players breaching rules to own up.

"Our job is to restore integrity in sport," she said.

"We can never be complacent.

"We must stamp this out.

"That is our job and that is what we intend to do."

John Fahey, the former Premier of New South Wales, who is now the President of WADA admitted that he was not surprised by the report's findings.

"I think it tells us how wide [and] how deep this problem is - in a country that prides itself on fair play we've got a problem of the nature we've heard of today," he said.

"It [doping] hasn't gone away and we have to renew our efforts and increase our resources."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]