Recent review reveals weaknesses in Australian sport
Advance Australia Fair anthem. Wikimedia Commons/www.davidmolloyphotography.com.
08.08.2018By Luca Arfini
Last week, the Australian Government released ‘The Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements’ done by an independent panel composed by the Hon James Wood AO QC, Mr David Howman CNZM and Mr Ray Murrihy. The review contains 52 recommendations for an effective reaction to the current threats to sports integrity in Australia.
The review was commissioned in August 2017 as a response to the growing integrity breaches within the international sports arena and as part of a broader ‘National Sport Plan’.
The Plan contains four pillars: performance, participation, prevention through physical activity, and integrity; among which integrity plays the main role in ensuring the viability of all the other elements of the Plan.
According to the review, while Australia has a reputation of being a world leader in the sports integrity field, there are emerging threats to sports integrity within the country which require comprehensive and nationally coordinated action.
“The focus of this Review, accordingly, has been on developing an understanding of the nature and level of the threats to sports integrity in Australia, to identify and assess our current sports integrity capability and any current weaknesses, and to propose a nationally coordinated response,” it says in the review.
The Australian sports wagering scheme
The review’s major proposal regards the regulation of the Australian sports wagering market through a new ‘National Platform’ capable of gathering and assessing data and intelligence. This is seen as a possible solution to suppress the manipulation of sports competitions through unregulated offshore markets and new online methods of placing bets.
Furthermore, this platform is a requirement for compliance with the 2014 Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competition, known as the Macolin Convention.
Taking part in the Macolin Convention would be a great step forward for the country also according to the Australian Olympic Commission’s president, John Coates.
"Australia should become a party to the Macolin Convention. The threats to the integrity of sport are transnational and Australia can no longer sit on the sidelines. We must be part of the global response," said Mr Coates in a press release about the review.
Another important recommendation in the review concerns a strengthening of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). This means that to function as a proper National Anti-Doping Organisation, ASADA should be provided with adequate resources, become financially sustainable, reform its doping sample analysis system, increasing its training capacity and addressing its procedural weaknesses.
A National Sports Integrity Commission and Tribunal
The two last important suggestions are the establishment of a National Sports Integrity Commission (NSIC) and of a National Sports Tribunal (NST). The Integrity Commission should ensure a coordinated plan to deal with the threats across the entire sports integrity community, taking on all the functions and responsibilities of the aforementioned National Platform. The second one aims to create a central hearing body assisting the work of sports’ current internal dispute resolution arrangements and providing a dispute resolution forum for the smaller sports.
“It is our view that the NSIC should be Australia’s international focal point for sports integrity issues, and generally responsible for international engagement in that respect,” the review explains.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton welcomed the review and explained the possible links between organised crime and the threats to sports integrity.
“Despite significant effort by Australian sport to bolster their own integrity safeguards in recent years, there continues to be significant vulnerability to criminal infiltration and exploitation. These criminal elements are involved in the manipulation of sporting competitions, the provision of illegal gambling and the supply of doping and illicit substances to athletes,” Dutton said.
“I will work closely with Minister McKenzie on the Government’s response to these current and emerging threats and I am confident that the steps taken will have a lasting impact on the safety, fairness and integrity of the sporting competitions we all enjoy so much.”