Top detective's appointment to AFL 'proactive'

The move to appoint a highly ranked detective to lead integrity investigations was not a response to fresh threats to the game from overseas bookmakers or new doping discoveries, the AFL has said.

The naming of Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan will be followed by the appointment of a junior investigator, bringing to 14 the number of people working inside the league’s expanded integrity unit.

Brett Clothier, a lawyer who has long headed AFL integrity investigations, will step back from hands-on investigations and assume an overseer and strategy role within the legal and compliance department that was splintered off from football operations in the past year.

In-house general legal counsel Andrew Dillon heads that new integrity and compliance department.

‘‘It’s a proactive move not a reactive one,’’ AFL spokesman James Tonkin said.

‘‘It is not in response to a recent incident, it is on the back of the ACC [Australian Crime Commission] report  and the issues that arose with anti-doping and the Essendon matter in the past year.

‘‘A whole lot of work has been done in enhancing powers and changing protocols and competition rules and this appointment follows that commitment to increase resourcing. It is one element or appointment amid a range of reforms and changes.’’

Detective Superintendent Ryan informed his seniors at Victoria Police of his decision to leave the force on Friday. He also told the Sandringham Football Club in the VFL that he needed to stand down from his position as president.

The unique nature of AFL means it is a small and niche market in world betting compared to other sports, so its danger from international betting syndicates was comparatively far lower, but nonetheless the amounts bet locally were sufficiently significant to warrant vigilant oversight.

The indigenous code would present a potential area for expansion for betting syndicates to infiltrate for match fixing and illegal betting.

Anti-doping remains a significant focus of the integrity department 12 months on  from the ‘‘blackest day in Australian sport’’.

As outlined in The Sunday Age in the past year the AFL has introduced a range of measures including banning the injecting of players for anything other than specific medical conditions, tightened gambling restrictions and integrity examinations of players and officials.

There is tighter control of who is permitted in changing rooms and coaches’ boxes with ‘‘undesirables banned’’, while there is now a requirement for mandatory reporting of anti-doping claims and a protection system in place for witnesses and whistleblowers.

Anti-tanking rules have also been strengthened in light of the Melbourne tanking fiasco.

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