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Sports supplement inquiry under cloud with imminent departure of anti-doping head

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The status of a lengthy probe into the use of performance enhancing supplements by major sporting clubs has come under question following the decision of the nation’s anti-doping czar to retire.

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) Chief Executive Officer Aurora Andruska has informed Sports Minister Peter Dutton she will retire when her term expires on 9 May.

The announcement follows increasing dissatisfaction among sport clubs and administrators with the speed of ASADA’s inquiry into supplements programs at major sporting clubs including the Essendon Football Club and the Cronulla Sharks Rugby League Club.

It has been more than a year since ASADA announced it had launched an investigation into the use of performance enhancing supplements by clubs in two major sporting codes, and there is mounting frustration about how long the investigation is taking.

ASADA revealed late last month that its investigations had concluded, but no charges have yet been laid.

A confidential interim report completed seven months ago included the names of 12 Essendon Football Club players who had admitted to being injected with peptides, according to a report in the Sunday Herald Sun.

Both the AFL and the NRL have already taken action against clubs and individuals implicated in the scandal.

Last August the AFL fined Essendon Football Club $2 million, banned it from playing in the 2013 finals series and taking part in the National Draft, and suspended senior coach James Hird for 12 months. Announcing the sanctions, the AFL acknowledged that there had not been any breaches of its Anti-Doping Code established “to date”.

In December, the NRL found that Cronulla had breached the competition’s Code of Conduct, and fined it $1 million. Head Coach Shane Flanagan was suspended for 12 months (with a possible reduction to nine months upon completion of further education), and Head of Strength and Conditioning Trent Elkin was suspended indefinitely.

Announcing Ms Andruska’s imminent departure, Mr Dutton paid tribute to her dedication and service, and added that “I know she will complete her current term unwaveringly to deliver the Australian Government’s commitment to integrity in sport”.

The Minister said Health Deaprtment Secretary Jane Halton would oversee the recruitment of Ms Andruska’s successor.

Adrian Rollins