Former Federal Police assistant commissioner Ben McDevitt will lead Australia’s Sport’s Anti-Doping Authority as it considers whether to issue bans to AFL and NRL players.
McDevitt takes over from Aurora Andruska as chief executive of ASADA after she announced her retirement in March.
He has served in law enforcement for the past 28 years, with ACT Policing, the Australian Federal Police, Royal Solomon Islands Police, CrimTrac and the Australian Crime Commission.
On top of his in-tray in his new role will be how to handle the report from retired Federal Court judge Garry Downes on the supplement scandals facing the country’s two biggest football codes.
Widely believed to be the next step in the 15-month long saga is whether ASADA will issue show-cause notices to footballers.
While new AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan said he expected decisions on show-cause letters to be handed down “in the back half of May”, McDevitt foreshadowed a longer wait.
“My very initial briefings is that we are dealing with very complex matters,” he said.
“This is about careers hanging in the balance … I will bring a sense of urgency but I will not sacrifice certainty for speed.”
He appeared to rule out making the Downes report public, saying the report contained “legally privileged information”.
Speaking generally, McDevitt paused to repeat what he saw as the bottom line on doping.
“Each professional athlete is personally responsible for what substances enter their body,” he said.
“ASADA’s reason for being is to protect Australia’s sporting integrity and the health of Australia’s athletes … we have to jealously guard our reputation for fair play.”
“As Australians, we all love sports and we all hate cheats.”
Sports Minister Peter Dutton said McDevitt’s appointment would take effect from Saturday.
Minister Dutton suggested he would continue to stay out of the issue, calling the announcement of the doping issues last March by former Justice Minister Jason Clare as “the darkest days of the Gillard Government period”.
“Politics doesn’t belong in sport,” he said.
McDevitt has been selected as a fulltime replacement for Andruska at ASADA.
Andruska, who was due to finish her term on Friday, will stay on in a consultant capacity to assist McDevitt settle into the role.