Valkanis says A-League is drug-free

Friday, 8 February 2013 11:35 AM

Valkanis says A-League is drug-free

Adelaide United interim coach Michael Valkanis is adamant drug use and match fixing do not exist in the A-League in the wake of the Australian Crime Commission's bombshell report.

The report, which summarised a 12-month investigation by the ACC, was released on Wednesday and revealed illegal substances were being facilitated throughout Australian sport by sports doctors, scientists, staff and coaches.

The ACC's inquiry also discovered links to organised crime, while one potential case of alleged match-fixing is being examined further.

But while the nation's sporting code may be involved in illegal drug use, Valkanis does not believe such practices exist in Australia's elite football competition.

"It's (drug use and corruption) not in our sport, particularly our code. No, not at all," Valkanis said.

"Especially since I've been back (in Australia) there's never been such a thing about types of doping and other sort of corruption.

"You used to hear a little bit about it overseas, especially in Europe ... you don’t expect that sort of stuff happening here in Australia.

"It's surprising to hear that sort of stuff has come to our shores."

Before plying his trade as a defender with Adelaide City in the now-defunct National Soccer League and eventually Adelaide United, Valkanis spent six years in Greece with Iraklis, Larissa and Agios Nikoloas.

During his European stint, the 38-year-old was exposed to match fixing but was never approached to take part in the corruption that eventually came to light in 2011 when 70 people were charged with illegal gambling, money laundering, extortion and fraud.

Valkanis said it was one of the reasons for returning home in 2002.

"Overseas it was obviously a problem, even in Greece ... there was that sort of stuff happening and (it) was one of the reasons why in the end I decided to come back," Valkanis said.

"I had enough of that sort of stuff and hearing what could be happening behind the scenes.

"Sometimes you couldn’t do anything about it, you knew it could happen.

"It was just a part of life, it exists there overseas. It's not a nice thing, especially when you go there as an Australian and you don’t accept it.

"It's just not sport. That's not why you play sport. You play sport to win and to win legitimately."

Despite the ACC's damning evidence of corruption within Australian sport, Valkanis scoffed at suggestions the country may have an extensive problem with drugs.

"I think we are not like that here and I'd like to believe that we are not like that here and it will never become like that here," Valkanis said.

"We've got a different mentality as Aussies about working hard ... that work ethic of getting fit, becoming mentally stronger and wanting to achieve stuff by doing it the natural way, and I hope that never changes."

Valkanis said his players were only taking vitamins.

"Definitely not (supplements), but a player will take his normal vitamins ... A, B, C," Valkanis said.

"I haven’t seen any injections around the place either."

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