Off the Wall

The news today that the ARLC is to establish an "integrity unit" is welcome, but it is woefully overdue.

Why has it taken a crisis, which results from an investigation rugby league administration had nothing to do with initiating or managing, to prompt the ARLC into action?

This column has been raising the need for a specialist integrity unit in rugby league administration for years.

Nothing happened under the NRL/ARL administrations. Nothing has happened since the ARLC was established - at least not until yesterday when the ne given w CEO was confronted with information that yet another integrity cloud hangs over our game.

I just hope that the integrity unit now finally being established is properly resourced - with skilled investigators and adequate funding.

But it starts from scratch...and will have to get up to speed very quickly given the detailed investigations by crime authorities already under way.

Even when the allegations concerning the former Essendon sports "scientist" the ARLC appeared to be caught flat footed.

Given the fact he formerly worked with NRL clubs and players it should have been on the ball immediately.

It has taken today's much wider revelations by the Australian Crime Commission, the police, and the anti-doping authority, to prompt the ARLC to do what should have been done a good while ago.
Not only do we need a high powered integrity unit to detect and prosecute offenders, we need it to protect and uphold the great majority of players who are not using performance enhancing and other drugs, or betting illegally on  the game.

We have to hope that Tony Whitlam QC can move much more quickly than those who appointed him have done on an issue that has been put in the "too hard" basket for too long.

The revelations today are a crisis for all sports, and for the community generally.

That the greatest game of all is front and centre in one aspect - allegations of match fixing - is sad.
It needs to be cleaned up, and cleaned up completely.

Our great game deserves and demands nothing less.