Pulver: Australian rugby is drug-free
Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver is confident his code is clean but has promised to be even more vigilant in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs.
While the National Rugby League attempts to deal with revelations six clubs were investigated in the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) probe into doping, rugby union appears to be in the clear. Pulver confirmed he has not been notified of any alleged cases of drug use by elite rugby players in Australia.
"At this point we've had no feedback in relation to rugby and I hope it stays that way," Pulver told Sportal at the official Super Rugby launch in Melbourne.
"We have another meeting of the chief executives in Melbourne where I think we'll learn more from the Australian Crime Commission and ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Association) about the steps going forward.
"And those steps are obviously trying to entice players to come forward so that in the event that they admit the issue they'll maybe have a six-month ban where if they get caught independently they could be wiped out of the game for four years or even potentially go to jail.
"We will learn more about it (on Thursday) but I must say I'm pleased with the state of that issue from a rugby perspective. I think we were proactive with our integrity unit back in 2010 but I just don't want to be complacent and we need to be even more rigorous going forward."
Pulver, who is only nine days into his tenure as ARU chief, also put the five Super Rugby franchises on notice to perform this season after disappointing 2012 campaigns.
"Last year we came third, seventh, 11th, 13th and 14th, and frankly that's not good enough," he said. "I would love to think one of our teams is going to win the competition and that all of them get inside the top 10. It feels like (the season has) been a long time coming. I think our five teams are very well advanced in their preparations and I'm looking forward to a really successful season."
Pulver concedes the 15-man code has lost some of its die-hard fans in recent years but remains upbeat about the short-term future of the game.
"In some areas, to be frank, we've lost a little bit of our core support base and that's been reflected by slipping game attendances and declining TV ratings but I think it's going to be very easy to get that back," he said. "With the right plans in place, I'm completely confident we can get this game growing again. I think we have a lot of opportunity ahead of us."