‘He needs to back it up’: Leaked cricket drug complaint sparks security warning

A confidential phone call between a whistleblower and Cricket Australia’s ex-integrity chief discussing a then-player’s alleged cocaine use and sexual activities has been leaked, exposing serious security flaws in the organisation’s anti-corruption unit.

The recording, sent anonymously to The Sunday Age, is of a call by former Cricket Australia head of integrity Sean Carroll to a woman who describes herself as a high-class escort and provides information that a well-known cricketer should “back it up” or he will end up destroying his career.

Former Cricket Australia head of integrity Sean Carroll.

In the phone call, the woman makes allegations about the player dancing naked on a balcony, openly using cocaine and cavorting with numerous women.

It is believed the phone call took place several years ago, and the allegations against the unnamed player could not be substantiated. But the existence of the recording years later and the ease at which such recordings can be accessed has led to sports corruption experts warning that there is a risk of players being blackmailed and whistleblowers being deterred from coming forward.

It is unclear how or when the recording was obtained from Cricket Australia. It was sent to The Sunday Age through an encrypted email service from an anonymous address. The player was not identified and The Sunday Age has established that the recording is genuine.

The source of the leak said they wanted to bring attention to what they described as the integrity unit’s “abuse of power” and the lack of security around the handling of information from whistleblowers. The person said they were a former Cricket Australia staffer who wanted to expose flaws in the integrity unit and asked for the matter to be made public.

“There are no rules regarding storage of these recordings, who can listen to them, or how long they should be archived,” the source said.

“There are no policies or procedures in place regarding access, integrity and confidentiality of this material.

“I want to protect members of the public, players and staff from an abuse of power and ensure accountability – I think this behaviour has gone unchecked for far too long.”

In the recording, the woman who contacted Cricket Australia tells Mr Carroll she is surprised at the player’s behaviour given his public profile.

“He needs to back it up a bit, back it up, like deadset seriously back it up because I’m probably doing him a favour if anything,” she says.

“I wouldn’t want to be publicly letting everyone seeing me party and snorting lines.”

The woman tells Mr Carroll there is “probably” video or photos of the player engaging in the reported activities but declines to provide any vision to Cricket Australia.

She says the last time she saw it happen was in the lead-up to Christmas but does not say which year.

“They party a lot these boys,” the woman says.

Cricket Australia was unaware of the leak until an inquiry by The Sunday Age. A spokesman said it had been reported to the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, which was providing assistance.

“Cricket Australia takes this matter extremely seriously, which is why we contacted Victoria Police,” the spokesman said.

“We constantly review our systems, and our controls around sensitive information are continually being improved and aligned with best practice.

“We take integrity matters extremely seriously and ensure appropriate action is taken.”

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police had met with Cricket Australia but was not investigating the matter.

It is the second major leak in two months involving players investigated by Cricket Australia’s integrity unit. In November, former Test captain Tim Paine resigned when his explicit texts sent to a co-worker in 2017 became public on the eve of the Ashes.

Mr Carroll, who investigated the Paine complaint when it was first reported to Cricket Australia, left the organisation in December last year to take up a role as Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner. Cricket Australia’s investigation of the complaint found Paine had not breached its code of conduct.

Sport corruption researcher Adam Masters, a senior lecturer in criminology at Australian National University, said the recording of sensitive information made players vulnerable to blackmail and possible match-fixing.

“The big risk with that sort of information, if it went to organised crime, is you’re looking at problems in places like the sub-continent where organised crime has historically been involved with sport gambling,” Dr Masters said.

“Players are much more aware of approaches by gambling interests and organised crime [than they used to be]. However, something like drug taking and prostitution really opens that blackmail element up in a very broad kind of way.”

University of Canberra integrity expert Catherine Ordway. Credit:Melissa Adams

Integrity expert Catherine Ordway from the University of Canberra said sporting organisations needed to develop strong whistleblower protections.

Dr Ordway, along with Dr Masters and associate professor Kath Hall, co-authored a report on sport corruption that contributed to the creation of a new national body, Sport Integrity Australia, last year.

“What we found over the last decade is that most major corruption scandals in the world have come through a whistleblowing process,” she said.

“It’s really important that the whistleblowing processes are strong and protected and that people who are providing information through these frameworks have confidence and trust in the system.”

A Cricket Australia spokesman said whistleblowers are encouraged to come forward knowing that the security of confidential information was regularly reviewed.

“We are committed to ensuring cricket is a safe environment for all, and we have no tolerance for any behaviour that compromises the safety or wellbeing of anyone involved in cricket,” the spokesman said.

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