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Footy players' blood profiling underway
By Steve Larkin, Andrew Drummond and Jim Morton
19:13 AEST Wed Feb 13 2013

Australia's football codes say they're creating blood profiles of players as crime fighters come under renewed criticism for their handling of sport's doping scandal.

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) was branded a "disgrace" by one rugby league club on Wednesday as widespread blood profiling of athletes was revealed.

But the profiling, dubbed biological athlete passports, can't show any use of the performance-enhancing peptides at the centre of the current controversy.

The ACC last week said it had identified widespread use of peptides by elite athletes but a lack of specifics has angered many sports officials, including North Queensland NRL coach Neil Henry.

"It's just wrong, it has been poorly handled and, to me, it's farcical," Henry told reporters in Townsville on Wednesday.

"For people to have to defend themselves not knowing any information is just wrong."

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey conceded it could take years for Australian sport's drugs cloud to clear.

Fahey was also critical of how the ACC delivered its findings of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs, with links to organised crime, within Australian sport.

"My regret is that they did it in such a general manner," Fahey told AAP in London.

"And as a result of announcing it when they did, there will be a long time that will elapse before we know how bad, how extensive, which codes, which teams, which players, which athletes.

"I'm afraid it's not likely that the cloud that is hanging over our head right now is going to be removed any time soon."

But Australia's major football codes hit back at Fahey's assertions they had not adopted athlete biological passports, as used in cycling.

The AFL, NRL and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have all started such passports which effectively reveal effects of blood-based doping such as EPO and transfusions, rather than use of substances such as peptides.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) introduced athlete biological passports into its Australian-based testing program in July last year.

An AFL spokesman said ASADA had been blood profiling a number of players across its competition "for several years now", while a NRL spokesman said rugby league was also engaged in blood profiling of players.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in rugby, more than 220 blood and urine tests this year across the Wallabies, Super Rugby and Sevens competitions would provide such biological passports.

"We don't even think twice about the cost because we need to do it to eliminate drugs from the game," Pulver told AAP.

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop said soccer also tested "in line with the regime recommended to us by ASADA, who, amongst other factors, take into account that our players are different to some of the other sports in terms of player body type".


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