Time to blow the whistle on corruption in sport

Sport in Australia is at the crossroads.

The racing industry is in turmoil, cycling, cricket and football have drug cheats, spot fixers and organised crime links. If you are in these industries and you know something, it is time to save Australian sport.

We need a whistleblower. I was a whistleblower.

I was a policeman, later a homicide squad detective and then a corruption investigator before I suffered the consequences of the ethical stand I took.

I risked my life many times in my previous role as a policeman, and later as a whistleblower.

Complaint processes should be both trusted and trustworthy.

A whistleblower should be an ethical person who has been backed into a corner, not a celebrity seeker who goes straight to the media.

But if the complaint system is corrupted or inadequate — think it through, and then act. Remember, once you’re a whistleblower life is very, very different.

Whistleblowers need to find a journalist they can trust.

When my time came I did my homework before hand.

Some whistleblowers drip-feed information to the media for news stories in an attempt to undermine those in authority doing the wrong thing.

The motive for this tactic lends itself to self-interest but often the information leak is the work of an anonymous whistleblower operating for the greater good but afraid to speak publicly.

This approach often achieves the desired result but it can be problematic.

Courage is needed. Whistleblowing isn’t for the faint-hearted as there is often an attempted character assassination after the event.

But if a whistleblower is telling the truth it can’t be refuted. On the flip side, there is plenty of risk in knowing too much.

A crook once explained: “It’s not personal, it’s just that you are standing between me and freedom.”

He went on to threaten my life. Whistleblower status often provides some protection.

Ex-employees that have moved onto another job and then blow the whistle are often just seen as bitter with an axe to grind; the public pick up on the fact that a person has nothing to lose. There’s more credibility if a whistleblower stays put.

 The cover-up of a crime, not the crime itself, is most important.

Cover-ups, turning a blind eye and related dishonesty of leaders, CEOs and auditors allow corruption to fester. A fish rots from the head, as they say.

Doubtless, there are people thinking of blowing the whistle in this sporting debacle.

But is sport worth it?

Everyday people watch, believe and aspire to be involved in sport.

Results are important to them, not in a win/loss type of way, but the integrity of the result.

Sport is the great leveller; it matters naught if a batsman is rich or poor.

It’s bat against ball.

In reality, it’s “truth” people come to see.

Children aspire to be sporting heroes, they dream of kicking a goal to win the grand final or to ride a Melbourne Cup winner.

My six-year-old daughter cried when the Hawks lost the grand final.

Kids in India practice cricket using a fence paling as a bat, they emulate their heroes. Sport is not about winning, it is about hope. It’s time someone stood up.

Simon Illingworth, Lord Street, Port Campbell

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