Feb 142013

Paul Marsh

Paul Marsh, CEO of the Australian Cricketers Association. Picture: Dominic Obrien Source: The Daily Telegraph

CRICKET’S day of reckoning in sport’s integrity crisis is fast approaching with results of player hair testing to lift the lid on any illicit drug use.

And, Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Paul Marsh says the fallout of  the Australian Crime Commission report means vigilance must be ramped up to protect players from the clutches of organised crime.

Anti-doping authority investigators will interview 150 NRL and AFL players, staff and administrators as the fallout from the ACC report continues.

However, Australia’s leading cricketers were informed in March last year they would be tested for illicit drugs from July 1 for a 12-month trial period.

All results will be delivered to the Australian Cricketers’ Association by June 30.

The nation’s elite cricketers now face an unrelenting testing regime as opposed to AFL which does not probe for illicit drugs during player leave periods.

ACA boss Paul Marsh insists believes the final results of the inaugural hair sampling trial will prove the game is basically free of illicit drugs while supplements are not considered to improve cricket performance.

“Illicit drugs is an issue in society, I don’t think we have a huge issue with drugs in cricket. The information we have around it would suggest we don’t,” Marsh told The Advertiser.

Australia’s Test and one-day stars were split over drugs policy in 2007 with older players supporting a zero tolerance stance to illicit drugs.

However CA and the players union eventually decided on medical based two-strike policy which contrasts with AFL’s three strikes rule.

Hair testing is more thorough than blood or urine sampling and results can be determined up to three months after drugs are consumed.

“We have in and out of season testing that operated year round. Anytime, any place is the premise our athletes understand,” noted Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young.

Marsh said organised crime, particularly shady betting syndicates, were notorious for attempting to lure players into compromising situations then blackmail them into activities such a spot fixing.

“Quite often players are offered something that seems quite innocent and trap them in some way shape or form. Organised crime figures can try and get players involved illicit drugs,” said Marsh. “Those measures are being used and once they have trapped players in a scenario they are given a choice, get involved in corruption or we will advise the world of what you are doing in your private life.

“One of the positive outcomes of the ACC report is the government has asked the sports to do more around integrity of their sports.”

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