Maurie Plant dodges question on drug test corruption

Four Corners ran a segment on Monday 22nd April called "Who's Cheating Whom" exploring the use of performance enhancing drugs in Australian sport. During the show, the Four Corners reporter asked an Athletics Australia athlete manager, Maurie Plant, about an event 13 years ago in which Mr Plant had asked heptathlete called Jane Flemming to provide a urine sample to substitute for javelin thrower's Sue Howland's sample for a drug test. When the reporter asked Plant to comment about this, Plant becomes defensive, refuses to answer, and walks out on the interview.

Sue Howland was an Australian javelin thrower who, through the 1989 Senate enquiry, admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs during her sporting career. Plant was the Australian athletics team manager named in the 1989 Black inquiry into drugs in sport who, at a track and field meeting in Belfast in 1986, urged the young heptathlete Jane Flemming to provide a substitute urine sample for the javelin thrower Sue Howland, fearing Howland would test positive to an anabolic steroid. Sue Howland a year later, in 1987, tested positive to performance enhancing drugs and was banned from competition for 2 years.

In the Black enquiry in 1989:

1: Sue Howland testified openly at the enquiry and admitted to her use of performance enhancing drugs during her career.
2. Jane Flemming received an offical warning for providing her own urine sample to another athlete.
3. Maurie Plant was banned for life from managing any athletes.

However, even today, Maurie Plant continues to directly manage track and field atheletes in his role as as Althetics Australia's International Liaison Officer. The profile on Plant's personal website states that he (Plant) was "Assistant Manager of the Australian team to IAAF World Indoor Championships in Spain in 2008".

Following is an extract from the Four Corners interview with Maurie Plant:

Reporter: Back in 1989 Maurie Plant was right at the centre of a 'drugs in sport' allegation. The Black Report found that while he (Plant) was assistant manager of Australia's track and field team, he asked heptathlete Jane Flemming, to provide a urine sample as a substitute for Sue Howland's sample in a doping test.
Sue Howland: I think then Jane Fleming went in and said that she'd been made to do a substitute sample for me and that's where it went from there, and it became a massive big deal.
Reporter: What did you think about that - that enquiry and what it found and what sort of effect did it have on you?
Maurie Plant: Loose. It was a loose enquiry.
Reporter: And why's that?
Maurie Plant: It was very, I thought very- I-it was ah, just broad brushstrokes.
Reporter: It was quite specific though, in relation to you.
Maurie Plant: Yeah. We're not going to go down this one, otherwise I'll walk off.
Reporter: Why's that?
Maurie Plant: Oh well, no. Stop the camera please.

You can see the full inteview here: The interview with Plant is at the 14 minute 30 second mark of the 45 minute segment.

Page 22 of one of the reports from the Senate enquiry states that Jane Flemming gave in camera evidence that:
"Mr Plant came up to me at the javelin throwing area and asked me if I would urinate in a bottle for Sue Howland because she had been picked for testing. He gave me a drink bottle. I went and weed in the bottle and apparently it got passed off as Sue's urine sample." The report recognises that action as an "attempt to corrupt a drug test".

Further down on page 28, the report says that:
"The committee understands that Athletics Australia has now taken action against Mr Plant. The committee has received a copy of a letter dated 12 March 1990 from Athletics Australia to the Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission. The letter advsies that Mr Plant acknowledged a potentional error of judgement, and it has been agreed that he will not be considered for an further managerial positions with Australian Athletic teams."

You can read the full Black report that contains the above quotes here:



The infamous urine switch occured at the Ulster Games in Belfast on 30th June 1986.