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Monday 18, May 2015

  Australian Senate Accused By AOC President Of Failure To Support Battle Against Doping

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The Australian Senate has been accused by Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates of a lack of support in the battle to tackle doping in sport in the country.

Coates, speaking at the AOC Annual General Meeting in Sydney, said the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has its “hands tied behind its back” after an ASADA Amendment Bill in 2013 was rejected by the Senate. This bill was aimed at introducing coercive powers, whereby athletes would have been required to attend interviews for answering questions, produce documents, and provide information regarding doping even if that may result in self-incrimination. ASADA introduced its own changes to the Australian Olympic Committee Anti-Doping By-Law in May 2013 despite the Bill being turned down by the Senate to include similar powers.

Coates told representatives from his member Olympic sports that unfortunately the Government lacked the numbers in the Senate to pass this aspect of the amending Bill and 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. Coates went on to remark that when it comes to investigating most of the nine anti-doping rule violations which are not based on the presence of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s sample, ASADA has been largely left with its hands tied behind its back and also commented that what our elected representatives in Canberra would or could not do for ASADA, we have done for them.

The 65-year-old Coates also said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code is applied to all sports. The AOC Chief said it is just plain wrong to say, as he has read, that the WADA Code was not designed for team sports and added these commentators forget that the highly professional team sports of football, ice hockey, basketball and volleyball and the other team sports of handball, rugby sevens, hockey and water polo, which have always been bound by the Code at both the international and national levels, are Olympic sports.

Coe’s comments come despite the Australian Senate passing a Bill in June 2013 that gave more powers to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority so that it can speed up doping investigations. The legislation allows ASADA to demand phone records, medical prescriptions of suspect athletes and other parties, text messages, and other documents with fines of up to $5,100 (£3,060/$4,700/€3,600) to those who do not comply with the requests. Victorian Greens politician Richard Di Natale told the chamber after passing the bill that ultimately we do accept the argument that ASADA needs further powers to expand its investigations into doping.

After the legislation was passed, Sports Minister Kate Lundy said 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. At that time, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates welcomed the passing of the bill and remarked Australia, with this legislation and the new powers it provides ASADA, remains at the forefront of the fight against doping in sport.

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Saturday 15, Nov 2014

  AOC Members To Undergo Mandatory Child Abuse Checks

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AOC Members To Undergo Mandatory Child Abuse Checks

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has revealed that all coaches, staff, and officials will be undergoing a mandatory Working with Children Check before they are allowed to become members of the nation’s team for Rio 2016.

John Coates, the AOC President, remarked he has introduced the policy for protecting all members of our Olympic teams and creating a child-safe environment after concerns by revelations at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.  The commission recently announced that Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, a former religious guru of a Mangrove Mountain ashram, allegedly had sex with under-age girls. The commission will hold a public inquiry into the response of the guru to allegations of child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. The hearing in Sydney will begin on December 2.

Coates added working with Children checks are mandatory in order to properly safeguard our athletes and uphold the behavioral standards required of an Australian Olympic team member.

The sporting federations of Australia are now expected to make sure that all sport officials who are nominated for selection for Rio 2016, and all subsequent Olympic teams have undertaken the check. This rule also applies to all headquarters officials and anyone who has not gone through the vetting system will not be eligible for selection.

It was revealed by the Australian Olympic Committee that Coates had consultations with the United States Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association on the matter, as well as Chair of the Royal Commission, The Honorary Justice Peter McClellan. Coates said we have been working with the US Olympic Committee and British Olympic Association who have vigorous policies in regard to the safety of children and added we will be introducing similar policies in our team agreement to protect all members of our team. Coates went on to add that it has been suggested to him that this is a bigger problem in American sport than doping.

The move also gets prominence after there were allegations of inappropriate behavior and language towards a junior female swimmer were made against senior Olympic swim team official Greg Hodge. Hodge is under investigation after it was alleged that he kissed a female junior swimmer on the cheek at a Canberra state championship event. Hodge has now retired from his role as head coach of the West Coast Swimming Club. It was also reported by Australia’s Sunday Telegraph that Olympic coach Michael Palfrey is facing serious allegations of inappropriate behavior towards teen girls on pool deck.

Former coach Tim Lane alleged that a male teenage swimming student was encouraged by Palfrey to improve his time by telling him he could ‘spend a night with one of his older female athletes’ (who was nearby) and ‘do whatever he wanted to her’. The accusations made against Palfrey were described as “unsubstantiated” by Swimming Western Australia chief executive Darren Beazley.

In another development, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has remarked that doubling bans for drug cheats that will leave all sports identities with nowhere to hide. Coates said the federal Parliament needs to pass the amendments to bring the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority into line with the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA is doubling bans from January next year for athletes using performance-enhancing drugs from two to four years.

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Friday 24, Oct 2014

  AOC Chief Calls For Urgent Doping Compliance

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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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Sunday 19, May 2013

  Strict New Anti-Doping Laws Introduced By AOC

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Strict New Anti-Doping Laws Introduced By AOC

The Olympic boss of Australia, John Coates, has introduced the strictest anti-doping laws in Australia that would make athletes and officials to truthfully answer any questions put to them by the anti-doping body, the Australian Anti-Doping Agency.

Speaking at an Australian Olympic Committee meeting, Coates remarked that his organization was watching the investigation the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority was undertaking into the National Rugby League and Australian Football League and wanted to make sure that any investigation into the use of drugs in Olympic sports was not hindered. He added that it would be naïve to not expect that some Australian athletes and officials in Olympic sports have so far fallen through the net because of inefficient (drugs) testing. The AOC chief also said he had no problem with information from “phone taps, surveillance and credit card receipts” being used to assist any anti-doping investigation.

The announcement came as Sports Minister Kate Lundy announced new funding of $3.46 million in the 2013/14 Budget for the Australian Anti-Doping Agency and the National Integrity of Sport Unit. A total of $1.7 million of the funding will be provided to the National Integrity of Sport Unit and $1.76 million to ASADA. Senator Lundy, in a statement, said this funding was being provided to help the Australian Anti-Doping Agency with its present investigations and to help individual sports strengthen their integrity systems on the back of the Australian Crime Commission’s Project Aperio Report. Senator Lundy added the investigation resources of ASADA have already been doubled in the wake of Project Aperio and this funding will see those resources maintained until at least 2014/15, to ensure ASADA can explore all possible avenues of inquiry. Lundy added that from grass-roots participation to elite sport, the Australian government is committed to Australian sport being played clean and fair.

All athletes and officials, under the new AOC Anti-Doping By-Law, would be required to give a statutory declaration upon taking up positions or membership in the team agreeing to fully cooperate with any investigation by ASADA and they must fully co-operate with ASADA even if to do so might incriminate or expose them to a penalty. The new law also obligates athletes and officials to give information, produce documents and answer questions as required by ASADA.

The Lance Armstrong case in which he categorically denied use of banned performance enhancing drugs and managed to pass all doping tests, had given more weight to amending the AOC By-Law, Coates remarked.

Coates added that failure to co-operate with and assist ASADA, in every way, can result in an athlete or official being ruled out of an Olympic Team and they may be ineligible for membership of or selection to any Team, or to receive funding from or to hold any position within the AOC for such period as determined by the Australian Olympic Committee. He also added that it was important to uphold the integrity in Olympic sport and Coates “welcomed” the assistance that Customs and the Australian Crime Commission were offering to the Australian Anti-Doping Agency.

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Tuesday 27, Nov 2012

  Coates And Pound Swap Barbs

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Coates Wants Sweeping Anti-Doping Powers

John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), has fired back at high-profile anti-doping crusader Dick Pound over the involvement of Coates in the world cycling crisis. The president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport board, Coates, had suggested names for a three-member inquiry panel and the commission will be including “respected senior lawyer”, a forensic accountant and an experienced sports administrator all “independent of cycling”, the cycling governing body said.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said the purpose of this independent commission is to look into the findings of the USADA report and ultimately to make conclusions and recommendations that will enable the UCI to restore confidence in the sport of cycling and in the UCI as its governing body.

Coates and Pound had a long history when Coates had a win over the Canadian two years ago for the presidency of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS).

The former World Anti-Doping Agency president, Pound, has spoken about a potential conflict of interests because the governing body of cycling, the UCI, asked Coates to recommend members for its new independent commission that was announced in the wake of Lance Armstrong doping scandal, the biggest crisis in the sport’s history.

Pound retaliated by saying it was “troubling” that Coates and former UCI president Hein Verbruggen are members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Verbruggen was at the helm of the UCI when Lance Armstrong was at the peak of his racing career and the terms of independent commission may be bad news for him. Pound added that it will even be more troubling if another International Olympic Committee member was sitting on the independent commission as people may get a chance to say it that was the gang working for each other.

Coates fired back at these comments and said there was absolutely nothing wrong with his involvement and said he considers it fully appropriate for the ICAS President to be invited by the cycling’s governing body to make recommendations for the composition and membership of the commission and further added that he respects Pound but disagree with him that it should have been WADA that was invited. One of the most powerful men in Australian sport, Coates, and Pound will cross paths at several ICAS meetings in Shanghai this week.

Pound, who is also involved in the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), has been a strong critic of how the cycling’s governing body has handled the deep-seated doping problems within the sport and Coates backed his own anti-doping credibility and aimed at Pound for how he dealt with cycling during his time as WADA president. Coates remarked Dick Pound, when he was WADA head, waved a big stick at the UCI telling them to get their house in order, but nothing was achieved and said he has been pushing for over a decade for tougher laws around doping in sport.

Coates, earlier this month, made a proposal that any member of the Australian Olympic team would have to sign a statutory declaration that they had never doped.

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