Oh Australia. We remember when America was innocent and naive like you. There was a time when we too would have been shocked by a lengthy and damning investigation revealing that the use of performance enhancing drugs is "widespread," that PEDs are now "widely available," and that athletes, coaches, and doctors across all sports are obtaining the drugs with the help organized crime. But we're jaded now, and can only offer you this advice: soon enough, you'll learn to just accept it.
Because testing procedures there lag well behind the science, the Australian Crime Commission spent a year investigating PED use in the country's professional sports scene, with the results released yesterday. You can view the full report below, but for a summary, here's what the former head of Australia's anti-doping agency had to say;
''This is not a black day in Australian sport, this is the blackest day.''
How bad is it? The report doesn't go into specifics, and doesn't name names for legal reasons, but Australian football and the domestic rugby league, the two biggest sports in the country, come under the closest scrutiny. The NRL has already commissioned an independent investigation into drug use in rugby, starting with the teams who have employed a sport scientist linked to doping.
The report also sheds light on the next generation of PEDs, identifying a series of drugs that aren't on WADA's banned list because they're not even approved for human use. They include:
• Cerebrolysin: a peptide extract from pig brain which is used to treat Alzheimer's and stroke victims. It is said to improve cognitive and behavioural performance by enhancing the function of neurons.
• Actovegin: A filtered extract from amino-rich calf blood which leads to improved absorption of glucose and oxygen in tissue. It may enhance physical performance and stamina.
• AOD-9604: An anti-obesity drug which mimics the effects of exercise and is currently going through human clinical trials. The Australian-developed drug is designed to replicate the human growth hormone that controls the rate of fat metabolism.
• TA-65: A drug which acts on a section of the DNA and reportedly reduces ageing at the cellular level. It is said to work by targeting telomeres, which are sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes during DNA replication. Telomeres become shorter every time a cell divides, and TA-65 reportedly helps lengthen them, possibly slowing ageing.
There's lots of talk from executives and politicians about how shocking this is, given that Australia is "a country that prides itself on fair play." But that's dumb. Australia's a county that's crazy about its sports, and its athletes are highly paid, and testing is lax. Of course PEDs are going to be rampant. So again, some advice to our Aussie friends, from a nation that's been where you are: This whole thing will be easier and more painless if your initial assumption is that everyone is doping. This report is a good start.