PDF printable version of AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal (PDF 318 KB)
1 April 2015
Australia is a proud sporting nation. With that comes high expectations athletes will not only compete, but compete fairly.
As a society, we have long made it clear winning at any cost has no place in Australian sport.
Organising bodies, clubs, athletes and their respective representatives all have a duty to protect the integrity of sport and the health and safety of those participating, as does Government.
This includes ensuring actions are not only legal, but ethical.
AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal Ruling
I note the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal found it was not comfortably satisfied that 34 former and current Essendon players committed an anti-doping rule violation regarding use of a prohibited substance during the 2012 season.
The Government and its members are legally not privy to the details of individual anti-doping matters and as such cannot comment on the specific workings of this case.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is also a statutory body and any decision as to whether or not they appeal this ruling will be made independent of Government.
This has been a long and incredibly complex matter and the Government will now take the necessary time to consider the outcome in full.
I also note there is a second case involving a support staff member that the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal is yet to hand down a ruling on.
As such, the Government will wait for the verdict in this second case before responding further, including any potential further actions.
Government Action to Strengthen Integrity in Sport
The Abbott Government considers the role of ASADA to be vital in helping to protect the integrity of sport in this country.
This investigative role is also necessary to ensure Australia continues to meet our obligations under the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport to implement anti-doping arrangements consistent with the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code.
Over the past 18 months the Abbott Government has undertaken a range of measures to strengthen integrity in sport, including:
- Doping substances identified by the Australian Crime Commission such as performance and image enhancing drugs have been scheduled on the poisons standard by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to come into effect from 1 June 2015.
- Amending Australia’s anti-doping legislation to align with the revised World Anti-Doping Code, which includes stronger penalties and a greater focus on investigations.
- Funding to directly address existing and emerging sports integrity issues that focus on vulnerabilities of sports, education and research, including illicit and performance-enhancing drugs.
Health concerns about injection regimes in sport
Regardless of today’s verdict, it must be acknowledged the Dr Ziggy Switkowski Report found a ‘disturbing pharmacologically experimental environment never adequately controlled or challenged or documented’ at the Essendon Football Club.
The AFL Players Association has identified these 34 players will have to be monitored to ensure they do not suffer any adverse health impacts now or into the future. There are clearly no winners in this matter.
Any injection of unknown substances into athletes in order to push the boundaries of sporting achievement is unacceptable and worries me as much in my role as Minister for Health as it does as Minister for Sport.
It shows a complete disregard for player safety and welfare.
Sport is built around culture and this sort of reckless behaviour at an elite level sends a dangerous message to amateur players, coaches and officials that it is acceptable practice, despite the potentially disastrous health consequences.
Media Contact: Troy Bilsborough 0427 063 150