WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand will ramp up its fight against corruption in sport by implementing greater information sharing among government and sporting bodies to stamp out potential match-fixing, doping and illegal activity, the country’s Sports Minister said on Friday.
A national match-fixing policy would also be established in 2014, Murray McCully said after he unveiled the recommendations in a Sport New Zealand (SNZ) report that concluded there was little high-level corruption in sport in the country.
“The report found no evidence of widespread drug use or organised crime in New Zealand sport,” McCully said.
”But it would be naive to think New Zealand is insulated from these problems.
“This is why we are taking pre-emptive steps to safeguard our athletes and clean sporting reputation.”
The report was instigated after the Australia Crime Commission (ACC) earlier this year linked organised crime and banned substances to several Australian sporting codes including rugby league and Australian Rules football.
SNZ concluded, however, there was little need for the government, sporting or law enforcement agencies to conduct a similar investigation in New Zealand.
“The report did, however, acknowledge international issues of sports corruption and match-fixing,” SNZ said in a summary of the report, which was not made public because it contained “sensitive information” provided by the ACC.
“The report also raised concerns related to the growing international black market for performance and image enhancing drugs (PIEDs) such as peptides, which are being intercepted by New Zealand Customs... largely due to their use by body building and body beautiful industry.”
The use of peptides in AFL and rugby league was at the heart of the ACC investigation.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids which athletes can take in supplement form to aid muscle growth and re-generation.
A number of them are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), including growth hormone and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).
Several government agencies, including Customs, the police, Serious Fraud Office and sporting organisations like SNZ and Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) would now actively share information and meet twice a year to discuss any issues that arise.
SNZ would have overall responsibility for the group.
Previously, law enforcement agencies, individual sports organisation and DFSNZ have taken responsibility for the implementation of anti-corruption and doping policy.
The national match-fixing policy, to be implemented from 2014, would include the sport sector and betting industry.
The decision comes in the wake of corruption scandals erupting in European soccer with seven people arrested this week for fixing matches in Britain’s lower leagues.
Earlier this year, an inquiry by European police forces, Europol and national prosecutors uncovered a global betting scam run from Singapore.
About 680 suspicious matches, including the European Champions League and qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, were identified in the investigation.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien