AOC Chief Calls For Urgent Doping Compliance

John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, has urged all sporting bodies to bring their anti-drugs codes up to the world standard or face a risk of not being able to participate in major events.

A Senate committee heard evidence from Coates ahead of parliament debating and passing law for strengthening the powers of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that can bring the anti-doping authority in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency that is all ready to introduce tougher penalties next year.

Following a near two-year consultation process, the revised WADA Code was agreed at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg, South Africa last November. The World Anti-Doping Agency will be doubling bans from two to four years for athletes who make use of banned performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic androgenic steroids. Under the to-be-implemented WADA Code, athletes will also be banned from associating with trainers, sports scientists, and coaches who have been broken anti-doping laws in the past and the period in which investigations can start into past doping offences will be extended by two years, to 10 years.

Australia was lagging behind other sport bodies and countries and the Australian parliament should step up the pace of reform, Coates said. The AOC chief added any athlete involved in a sporting body that was not code compliant would not be accepted into the team and remarked it is critical to deal with anti-doping in a consistent and harmonized way. Coates also said doubling bans for drug cheats is a game-changer that will leave all sports identities with nowhere to hide. The AOC chief is supporting a bill that proposes to strengthen the powers of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). In a statement, Coates said the Australian parliament needs to move on from the so-called blackest day in Australian sport referring to the Australian Crime Commission’s report into organized crime and drugs in sport. He added the proposed Bill changes didn’t breach human rights as feared by some athletes.

Coates, who is also a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, the ASADA act is paramount to the protection of clean athletes and their fundamental right to participate in doping free sport and thus promote health, fairness and equality for athletes. The AOC head also said these amendments are critical to protecting clean athletes and ensuring the Australian Government’s continued commitment to the Code. Coates also remarked the issues here are aligning the legislation under which ASADA operates with the World Anti-Doping Code and giving ASADA the means to get on with its work without interference from any of us involved in Australian sport and added only then will the integrity of ASADA and its work be ensured.

World champion rower Kim Crow, who is also chairperson of the AOC’s Athletes’ Commission, claimed that drug cheats are stealing “the innocence of sport”.  Matthew Dun, former world champion swimmer and Commonwealth Games gold medalist and a member of the International Aquatics Federation Bureau, said he hopes as an ex-athlete that all stakeholders will be able to use the new WADA Code with maximum effect to protect all clean athletes and ensure a level playing field.

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