Doping agencies urged Australian cheats to come clean today as concern mounted that everyone has been tarred by the same brush after a probe pointed to widespread drug use in professional sport.
The bombshell Australian Crime Commission inquiry, which said use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs was common across multiple sporting codes, has sent shockwaves through Australia.
'Blackest day in sport', ran the Sydney Morning Herald headline while the tabloid Sydney Daily Telegraph screamed: 'Sport on Trial.'
The Australian broadsheet said doping threatened the sporting culture of a nation that has long had a reputation as being predominantly drugs-free.
“The report will alarm a sport-loving nation that prides itself on the prowess and fairness of its athletes,” it said in an editorial.
The official report indicated that sports scientists, coaches and support staff as well as doctors and pharmacists were involved in the provision of drugs, which were often supplied by organised criminal gangs.
World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey said tougher penalties were expected to be adopted by his organisation in response to the growing use of new-generation, performance-enhancing drugs such as peptides.
He told The Australian that any athletes who came forward and offered “substantial assistance” would be shown leniency.
“If you are caught, you will be dealt with in a manner that can take you out of the sport forever,” he said.