Thursday, 10 December 2020
Sport Integrity Australia Amendment (World Anti-Doping Code Review) Bill 2020; Second Reading
I present the explanatory memorandum to the bill, and I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Australian government is a strong advocate for clean and fair sport, as demonstrated by the sport integrity reforms enacted in its response to the review of Australia's sports integrity arrangements, (the Wood review). While Australia can do what it can in its own backyard, sport is a global activity, and it is important that Australians are subject to the same antidoping arrangements as our international competitors.
The World Anti-Doping Code (code), administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and implemented by sports and governments around the world, ensures that athletes are treated the same and abide by the same core set of rules everywhere, regardless of nationality and sport. Australia, as a signatory to the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport (convention), has an obligation to implement antidoping arrangements that are consistent with the principles of the code.
WADA initiated a comprehensive review of the code in late 2017, as it does every six years, to ensure it remains up to date with doping methods and practices. A key theme of the review was proportionality—to ensure the code targets the right stakeholders and applies consequences that are proportionate to an individual's culpability.
Consequently, some of the key changes to the code include:
To ensure that core antidoping arrangements are harmonised across the world, international sporting federations, governments, and antidoping organisations that are signatories to the code are currently updating their antidoping policies and legislation to reflect the revised code.
The Sport Integrity Australia Amendment (World Anti-Doping Code Review) Bill 2020 ensures Australia continues to meet its international obligations to enact legislation that is consistent with the principles of the code and its associated international standards. The revisions to the code will commence from 1 January 2021. If Australia does not amend its legislation to reflect the revised code, we will be non-compliant with our obligations under the convention, and Australian athletes will be subject to out-of-date antidoping arrangements.
Sport Integrity Australia is the Australian government agency responsible for working with sporting organisations to eliminate doping. Sport Integrity Australia's powers and functions are specified under the Sport Integrity Australia Act 2020 and the Sport Integrity Australia Regulations 2020.
A key revision to the code is broadening the scope of those who can be subject to antidoping arrangements. This is largely in response to the Russian doping scandal, where the McLaren report stated that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping scheme for several years. Key facilitators of the scheme sat outside the jurisdiction of the code. In response, the revised code will now provide antidoping organisations authority to subject individuals such as board members, officers, directors and specified employees to certain antidoping rules which target facilitation. Importantly, the code recognises that such individuals should not be subject to the full requirements of the code, such as whereabouts and testing.
The revised code also recognises that, in certain circumstances, it may not be appropriate for an antidoping organisation to publish the details of an individual's antidoping rule violation. The code requires an antidoping organisation to maintain a public-facing violations list which details information of all antidoping rule violations (except for those under 18 years old). The revised code broadens this exception to include athletes who compete for recreational purposes (unless that person has been considered a national level athlete or international level athlete within the previous five years), and individuals who do not have the mental capacity to understand the antidoping rules.
The revised code recognises that antidoping organisations require greater flexibility to respond to misinformation regarding an ongoing antidoping rule violation. Currently, the code restricts when an antidoping organisation can respond to address misinformation to when the comments can be directly attributed to the athlete or support person, or a member of their entourage. The revised code broadens this to include where the comments can be attributed to information provided by an athlete or a member of their entourage. This revision also allows the government to continue to implement its sport integrity reforms outlined in its response to the Wood review.
The proposed amendment to the definition of athlete sits outside the revisions to the code. The amendment is necessary to clarify the operation of the National Anti-Doping Scheme, that a person remains an athlete (and subject to the antidoping rules) for six months after the time that person last competes. This provides more clarity and certainty around whether a person is an athlete.
The government remains committed to the fight against doping, and it is paramount that the international sporting movement and governments work together to implement harmonious core antidoping programs that reflect the code and its accompanying international standards. This bill ensures that Australia continues to play its part in international antidoping arrangements, safeguards the health and wellbeing of athletes, and meets its obligations under the convention. I commend the bill to the House.
Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.