Thursday, 8 October 2020
Sport Integrity Australia Amendment (World Anti-Doping Code Review) Bill 2020; Second Reading
The Sport Integrity Australia Amendment (World Anti-Doping Code Review) Bill 2020 seeks to amend the Sport Integrity Australia Act 2020 and the National Sports Tribunal Act 2019. These amendments would align Australia's antidoping legislation with revisions of the World Anti-Doping Code and international standards, which come into force on 1 January 2021. Australia has ratified the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. That means we have an international obligation to align our antidoping arrangements with any revisions of the WADA code. This bill seeks to give effect to that. In order for us Australia's antidoping legislation to remain appropriately aligned with the revised code and international standards, the amendments in this bill will need to be passed and given assent before 1 January 2021.
Labor supports Australia being at the forefront of global efforts to deal with doping in sport. In turn, we support Australia fulfilling its international antidoping obligations and, therefore, these arrangements, which will ensure our domestic antidoping arrangements remain aligned with the WADA code. This bill does three key things in response to the WADA code revisions: it adds relevant non-participants to the persons who may be subject to the National Anti-Doping scheme, it gives the Sport Integrity Australia CEO discretion not to publish the details of an antidoping rule violation when the athlete is recreational or does not have the mental capacity to understand the antidoping rules and it allows the CEO to respond to misinformation. This bill also makes consequential amendments to the National Sports Tribunal Act 2019 to enable a nonparticipant to apply to the tribunal for arbitration of a dispute arising under an antidoping policy.
In addition to the measures I've mentioned, which respond to the WADA code revisions, the bill will extend the definition of 'athlete' to include persons who competed in sport within the last six months. This amendment is designed to deal with the potential for the current definition to be interpreted narrowly as only a person who currently competes, which would restrict Sport Integrity Australia's ability to investigate possible antidoping rule violations. Initially, stakeholders, including the Australian Athletes' Alliance, did raise some concerns with the opposition about the potential for this measure to impact retired athletes. Labor has worked with those stakeholders to seek clarification on that aspect of the bill. The government has since made it clear that this section of the bill does not apply to formally retired athletes but rather to athletes who, for some reason—perhaps injury—are on a short break from competing. Athletes intending to compete again continue to fall within the National Anti-Doping Scheme to ensure that they remain compliant with their obligations under the World Anti-Doping Code on their return to competition. Stakeholders have advised the opposition that, given the clarification, they believe this aspect of the bill is appropriate.
Labor supports measures that strengthen Australia's protections against evolving threats to the integrity of sport. We recognise that these protections, particularly in relation to doping in sport, can place a large burden and a lot of pressure on athletes. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders and observe the implementation of Australia's new sport integrity operations to ensure they deliver the dual goals of protecting Australian sport and Australian athletes. Labor supports this bill.