Last month, Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie announced the Federal Government’s response to the Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements, chaired by James Wood (‘the Wood Review’). The Wood Review, released in August 2018, highlighted a number of integrity-related issues in Australian sport and made 52 recommendations aimed at maintaining public trust and confidence in Australian sports.
This announcement comes on the back of a number of high-profile integrity issues in Australian sport in recent years, with the Essendon and Cronulla supplements sagas, live baiting in greyhound racing and the cricket ball-tampering fiasco, to name a few.
Sports Integrity Australia
Amongst the 52 recommendations, the Wood Review recommended the establishment of a National Sports Integrity Commission (‘NSIC’), being a centralised body established to develop intelligence and law-enforcement capabilities, aimed at connecting Commonwealth and state and territory agencies in order to facilitate efficient and decisive responses to integrity matters. The Federal Government endorsed this recommendation last month in announcing the establishment of Sports Integrity Australia (‘SIA’).
SIA will be established with the aim of centralising the intelligence and law-enforcement capabilities of Commonwealth and State and Territory agencies and to facilitate efficient and decisive responses to integrity matters in sport. This will involve the consolidation of the roles and powers of numerous sporting integrity bodies such as the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the National Integrity of Sport Unit and the national sports integrity functions of Sport Australia.
SIA will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating the protection of Australian sport from corruption due to doping and sports wagering, while working closely with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (‘ASADA’), Sport Australia, and the National Integrity of Sport Unit (‘NISU’). To do this, SIA will incorporate the functions of ASADA, NISU and Sport Australia, with a view to providing a single point of contact for all sports integrity stakeholders. This will also allow for the systemic receipt, assessment and dissemination of information relating to doping and sports-wagering and an opportunity to strengthen ongoing regulatory monitoring, compliance and enforcement.
SIA will provide direct assistance to small and emerging sports in Australia that lack capacity to deal with integrity issues alone.
The Government has also announced it will work towards developing a whistle-blower protection service so that sports integrity information can be reported to SIA freely and confidentially.
National Sports Tribunal
As part of the response to the Wood Review, the Federal Government also announced the establishment of a National Sports Tribunal (‘NST’) in order to provide an accessible tribunal for all sports in Australia for the hearing of sports integrity disputes.
The NST aims to provide a cost and time-efficient method of resolving sports integrity disputes and will be piloted for a period of two years.
The Federal Government has taken a significant step in establishing SIA and the NST. While SIA and the NST are in the early days of development, it will be interesting to observe how these new bodies anticipate and respond to sports integrity matters moving forward.
It remains vital that the integrity of Australian sport is maintained at all levels – including at amateur and professional levels, plus locally and nationally.
If you require legal advice in relation to sports integrity issues or assistance in running an investigation within your sport, please contact Paul Horvath and Ned Puddy at SportsLawyer on 9642 0435 or reach out to us at email@example.com.