Church call for a ban on sports gambling
A REPORT released last week by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) that found “widespread” use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes, match-fixing and links between sport and organized crime has prompted the Anglican Church to call for a ban on sports gambling.
On 8 February Bishop Phillip Huggins, chairman of the Diocese of Melbourne Social Affairs Committee, said a moratorium on betting on major sports, including football, rugby and cricket, should be considered by the government.
A suspension of sports betting would give the leagues time to “complete the clean-up now under way, and would remove any possibility that the winter games of the [Australian Football League] and [National Rugby League] would attract unsavoury speculation.”
At a 7 February Canberra press conference, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said “multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, potentially constituting anti-doping rule violations.
“It’s cheating but it’s worse than that, it’s cheat- ing with the help of criminals,” he said.
The 47-page report found “clear parallels” between doping amongst Australian athletes and the case of cyclist Lance Armstrong. These links underscored “the trans-national threat posed by doping to professional sport,” the report said with the “difference” that “Australian threat is current”, covers multiple sports and “is evolving.”
Mr Claire added that “links between organised crime and players exposes players to the risk of being co-opted for match-fixing and this investigation has identified one possible example of that and that is currently under investigation.”
No names were mentioned in the ACC’s report, Mr Clare said, as police investigations were ongoing.
The “alleged linkages between organised crime and sport require a strong united response aimed at restoring integrity,” Bishop Huggins said, adding “the word ‘play’ is used in relation to sporting ‘games’. These words speak of an innocence and integrity we all want to recover, both in sport and in our community.”