Ministerial statement: Important new anti-doping powers for ASADA pass through Parliament
The Australian Parliament has today passed legislation that will provide new powers to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to compel individuals to produce documents and materials relating to an anti-doping investigation.
Minister for Sport Senator Kate Lundy welcomed the passage of the legislation through the House of Representatives today after it passed through the Senate on Monday. Senator Lundy explained the legislation, which was drafted on the recommendation of esteemed Judge James Wood AO QC following the review into Cycling Australia, represents the next step in stamping out doping from sport.
“Doping has no place in sport and it is incumbent on the Government to provide ASADA with the right tools to investigate allegations of doping,” Senator Lundy said.
“While this legislation won’t force individuals to self-incriminate in interviews, interviewees will now have to produce documents, materials and things relating to anti-doping investigations.
“This legislation will also force those people who work with athletes at the fringes, but not directly employed by clubs, to attend ASADA interviews.
“Individuals who defy ASADA could face a civil penalty of more than $5000 for every day they refuse to cooperate. This is a tough but appropriate penalty for individuals who refuse to cooperate with an anti-doping investigation.
“While this legislation won’t change the outcome for current ASADA investigations, it does offer the potential to speed those investigations up.
“Importantly, this legislation will not just help ASADA do their job, it will help sporting organisations with their own integrity investigations.”
The key focus of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013 is to provide ASADA with the power to issue a ‘disclosure notice’ compelling persons of interest to assist ASADA’s investigations. This will see:
- individuals required to attend interviews with ASADA investigators
- individuals required to cooperate with ASADA by answering questions or providing information; however, individuals will not be required to self-incriminate themselves
- individuals required to provide specific documents, materials (including electronic materials and products) and things (such as video cameras, medications and training bags) to ASADA investigators
- individuals who fail to comply with a disclosure notice face a civil penalty of 30 penalty units per day (currently equivalent of $5,100 per day).
Other changes that will take place from the legislation include facilitating information sharing arrangements between ASADA and Australia Post, providing greater clarity around the role of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel and updating conflict of interest provisions for members of the bodies established under the ASADA Act.
The Australian Government is a strong investor in anti-doping and integrity in sport measures. In February 2013, the Government doubled ASADA’s investigative team following the release of the Australian Crime Commission’s Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report.
The Government also announced new funding of $3.5 million in the 2013-14 Budget for ASADA and the National Integrity of Sport Unit (NISU). This new funding for ASADA will see those increased resources maintained until at least 2014-15, to ensure ASADA can explore all possible avenues of inquiry.
The new funding for the NISU sees the Unit expanded to employ specialist intelligence officers to gather information about sport integrity issues and provide expert assistance to individual sports to help them establish their own integrity policies and ways to enforce those policies.
The expanded NISU will focus on those grey areas — where we may not be talking about doping, but we are talking about illegal conduct like match-fixing and using illicit drugs, and unethical conduct like the inappropriate use of prescription medications.
The Government expects to present the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013 and its associated regulations to the Executive Council for proclamation in late July.