In light of several recent cases in Australian sport regarding doping allegations, specifically in football and rugby, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates has spoken out regarding the country’s lack of government legislation surrounding anti-doping.
According to Channel News Asia, a clause in a bill which would have compelled athletes to answer questions from the Australian Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) failed to make it out of Australia’s upper house legislature back in 2013, leaving the ASADA “with its hands tied behind its back.” As such, in cases where the ASADA has no positive drug test recorded, the organization has no authority to compel key witnesses to sign sworn statements.
Such was the case in the ASADA’s decision not to appeal the acquittal of 34 professional Australian Rules’ footballers accused of taking banned supplement Thymosin beta-4. With the lack of power to force individuals to support written statements, the organization instead turned the case over to the World Anti-Doping Agency for further processing. This was the precise type of situation the legislation was aimed at preventing have happen.
On the failure of the bill’s passing, Coates told the AOC, “We are left with an act that excuses individuals from answering questions or giving information if the answer or the information might tend to incriminate them.”
This report is in direct contrast to most athletes, sporting advocates and federations around the globe who are looking for more stringent anti-doping legislation with the 2015 FINA Worlds fast-approaching, as well as the 2016 Olympics just about 15 months away.