Opposition sports spokesman Luke Hartsuyker (right) has entered the drugs in sport debate through today's statement to a Sydney newspaper.
Opposition sports spokesman Luke Hartsuyker (right) has entered the drugs in sport debate through today's statement to a Sydney newspaper. Rob Wright

Hartsuyker crash tackles his way into drugs in sport debate

NATIONALS Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, today entered the drugs in sport controversy by launching a withering blast at Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Labor Party in a News Ltd newspaper.

Quoted extensively in the Sunday Telegraph by columnist Piers Ackerman in his capacity as Opposition sports spokesman, Mr Hartsuyker railed against the government and even managed to connect the scandal to former Labor MP Craig Thomson who is now sitting on the cross benches.

His comments were delivered in the wake of the last month's joint press conference that involved the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, Justice Minister Jason Clare, Sports Minister Kate Lundy and the heads of five of the nation's leading sporting codes, which declared drug use was rife in Australia sport.

"One has to call into question how this whole issue is being managed," Mr Hartsuyker told Ackerman.

"We have a situation where last month the government hastily convened a press conference involving the CEOs of Australia's major sports and slurred all of the sporting community with claims of doping, organised crime and match fixing.

"But after weeks of suspicion and uncertainty we were then told the problem only exists in the NRL and AFL.

"Now we have 14 players from one NRL club being asked to stand down for six months when no one has publicly detailed what these players have done and who is responsible."

Mr Hartsuyker's entry into the debate was pre-empted on Wednesday by Liberal Senator and Shadow Attorney General George Brandis - a former Minister for Sport in the Howard Government - in a 21-minute radio interview with broadcaster Alan Jones, heard locally on stations 2CS-FM and 2MC-FM.

"My colleague Luke Hartsuyker, who is ... um ... the Member for Cowper in NSW ... who is the Shadow Minister for Sport ... and he and I have been collaborating on this," Senator Brandis said.

Several times in recent weeks and in a large part of Wednesday's radio interview, Jones has claimed the Prime Minister was deliberately interfering in the drugs scandal to deflect attention from her own troubles while allowing Justice Minister Clare to use the investigation to shore up his own position in Western Sydney.

Senator Brandis agreed with Jones' contention and Mr Hartsuyker also took up a supporting position in today's statement to Ackerman.

"I know there is a real fear in the sporting community that the government agencies are under increasing pressure to come up with a scalp," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"Particularly given two Gillard government ministers made such serious allegations about drugs, crime and match fixing.

"Many believe the ministers overreached themselves at that February press conference by making a lot of allegations but not providing any evidence.

"From a political perspective it's incredible that the Prime Minister stood by Craig Thomson seemingly for political advantage, while sportsmen are now being hung out to dry."

However, in a different story in the same newspaper, a claim by a rugby league club chairman that players used TV-500 (Thymosin Beta4), a drug used to treat injuries in greyhounds and horses has strengthened the position taken by the ACC, ASADA and Ministers Clare and Lundy.

Part of their statement was players were taking or being fed drugs that were not for human use or for veterinary use only, or supplements containing animal by-products including foetal calf serum.

This revelation follows an admission made on the ABC's 7.30 Report on February 11 by sports scientist Stephen Dank - the man central to the inquiry - that during his time with the Manly Sea Eagles " ... we'd used a little calves blood."



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