MELBOURNE - Australia has named a senior police official to take over as head of its national anti-doping agency and see through a major investigation into two of the country's professional football codes.
Ben McDevitt, a career policeman with experience in a number of criminal intelligence roles, replaces the outgoing chief executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), Aurora Andruska.
McDevitt takes the reins at a sensitive time, with the agency's credibility battered by a prolonged probe into the use of banned substances in the country's top rugby league and Australian Rules competitions.
ASADA has been widely criticised for its handling of the 15-month investigation, which continues to overshadow the National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL) into a second season.
The probe, centred on the administration of supplements to players at a Sydney-based NRL side and a Melbourne-based AFL team, has so far resulted in the punishment of only one player.
ASADA finished collecting evidence in February and passed it on to a retired judge, who was to recommend whether the agency should issue infraction notices to players by April.
McDevitt declined to offer any timeframe as to when the probe might be wrapped up. "My very initial briefings is that we are dealing with very complex matters," he told reporters.
"This is about careers hanging in the balance ... I will bring a sense of urgency but I will not sacrifice certainty for speed." Australian Olympic Commission President John Coates welcomed McDevitt's appointment, saying he was perfectly positioned "for the new emphasis on investigations and intelligence gathering in the fight to protect clean athletes.
"The exposure of Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong as doping cheats did not come about through testing," Coates said in a statement, referring to the disgraced American athlete and former pro cyclist.
"They were exposed through investigations. By this appointment, (sports) minister Peter Dutton and the Australian government are clearly signalling their intention to continue to obtain, access and process anti-doping intelligence from all available sources. "So far as I am concerned they are to be commended."