The Government acknowledges today’s ruling handed down by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the case brought by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against Essendon players.
This ruling follows ongoing work undertaken by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) on what has transpired to be one of the most complex and wide-ranging doping investigations in Australian history.
Australia has long-been committed to upholding its international obligations under the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport and the principles of the World Anti-Doping Code in order to protect the long-term integrity of such an important part of our everyday lives.
Doping is one aspect of broader integrity issues which are increasingly linked with organised crime and corruption infiltrating sports worldwide and the Government will now take time to digest the CAS ruling in the context of addressing these wider challenges facing Australian sport.
As the Minister has no role in individual anti-doping cases, I will be making no further comment on the specifics of the Essendon ruling at this time.
However, I would like to make a few general observations:
There is no doubt that protracted legal appeals and the political interference of the previous Labor Government drew out the length of this case and frustrated fans, players, administrators and authorities alike.
Lessons learnt throughout this process will continue to influence sports policies and governance for many years to come.
Regardless of the outcome, this case has also highlighted clear community expectations that clubs and their coaching staff do have a moral obligation to care for a player’s health and safety.
Athletes take guidance from those leading them and should be able to trust in the institutions through which they compete.