Senate Calls Parliamentary Oversight Of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority
An Australian senate committee has recommended that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "should be required to report annually to parliament to justify its use of disclosure notices," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. The committee "is investigating whether legislative changes should be made to the existing ASADA legislation to give the anti-doping body coercive powers to compel witnesses to provide information about doping in sport, even when they might incriminate themselves." The committee stated, "The report would provide an additional transparency mechanism to balance the provision of this significant new power" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14). In Sydney, Heath Aston reported the federal government "has been frustrated in its attempt to fast-track extraordinary new powers to anti-doping authorities." The Gillard government "failed to bring on debate on a proposed law" that would give the ASADA star chamber-like powers. If passed by parliament, ASADA "would be able to compel athletes to submit to interviews." Athletes would be fined A$5,100 ($5,250) if they withheld information from investigators. The burden of proof "would be shifted onto them to prove they had done nothing wrong" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/14).
NRL GETS WISH: Also in Sydney, Honeysett & Read reported the National Rugby League "finally got its wish" Wednesday after the ASADA had its investigation team doubled, but not before the federal government told the code "it needed the full co-operation of its clubs and its players if it wanted the matter to end quickly." NRL CEO Dave Smith "has been calling for more resources to be thrown at the ASADA investigation following claims by the Australian Crime Commission last month that doping, match-fixing and organised crime were rife in Australian sport." While Smith "has expressed his frustration at the length of the investigation, it is believed ASADA has been disappointed with its lack of access to Cronulla players, having only interviewed support staff to this point." Sharks players "will now co-operate with investigators and interviews will take place soon" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14). Also in Sydney, Webster & Scarr reported the senate "is expected to begin debate next week on legislation put forward by Labor to beef up powers for ASADA." Labor "is trying to secure the passage of the bill," and Wednesday met with the Greens and ASADA "to better explain the measures" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/14).
SHARKS IN THE WATER: In Brisbane, Proszenko & Lane reported a candidate standing for the Cronulla board elections "will consider reinstating the sacked coach and staff members if he is successful in ousting the current directors." Sharks Chair Damian Irvine "finally stood down on Wednesday and was replaced by former player Glenn Coleman." Minining industry manager Andy Barrow "will nominate for the elections when the ballot box opens in mid-April." He said that the staffers should not have been punted until investigations by the ASADA "had run their course and would consider reinstating them, if elected." Barrow said, "What real legal fact did they have at that time? And if they didn't have anything of real substance, it's unfair to put the guys out" (BRISBANE TIMES, 3/14).