Junior clubs in Queensland, Australia must take precautions against match-fixing and doping, a leading sports corruption expert has said.
Dr Sarah Kelly who is also director of the Brisbane Lions has spoken of ‘extraordinary’ conditions inside Queensland sports clubs, with players contacted about throwing matches.
She has spoken out after the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency said recently it would strengthen partnerships with Australian Border Force and the Australian Federal Police to combat crime.
Asked if grassroots sports in Queensland were safe from international crime syndicates, Dr Kelly said: “Not at all. It’s absolutely astounding. It’s absolutely widespread. One of the main risks is match-fixing. It’s extraordinary.
“It threatens the very existence of sport in our country. The infiltration of gambling in sport is a large driver of this.”
Dr Kelly believes independent watchdogs, known as integrity subcommittees, should be set up by lower level clubs, following the lead of their professional counterparts.
Even young athletes at Brisbane schools were being encouraged to take drugs to strengthen their chances of securing a professional career in sport, she said. These athletes were also the most vulnerable to match-fixing because the incentives to play the game were not as great as professionals.
In August, Sport Minister Greg Hunt called for a review into the integrity of Australian sport, and its findings are expected to confirm major shortcomings in the way that clubs at all levels safeguard themselves against illegal betting syndicates.