The Australian government has conveniently orchestrated a series of events intended to create an environment of hysteria in order to facilitate the passage of new draconian anti-doping legislation. Australian citizens may soon be stripped of their right to avoid self-incrimination and compelled to testify as witnesses under penalty of civil law in doping cases if the government has its way.
Doping Hysteria in Australia
The Australian Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) announced the investigation of doping by the Essendon Football Club in the first of several events that converged around the topic of doping. Within 24 hours, the Australian Crime Commission report was released with revelations of widespread doping in several sporting codes. Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy responded by expressing her unbridled concern for “parents and children” involved in sports plagued by doping.
The government could not do it alone. A complicit media targeted a sports scientist in a peptide witch-hunt. The general public was predictably whipped in a frenzy of self-righteous indignation. The Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) defensively jumped on the anti-doping bandwagon pledging their unquestioning support to anything the government wanted to do.
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013
In this atmosphere of moral panic over doping in sport, the government is attempting to dramatically expand the powers and resources given to anti-doping authorities.
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced in the Senate within hours of the announcement of the ASADA Essendon investigation and the ACC doping report.
Minister for Sport Kate Lundy Leads Anti-Doping Charge
Minister for Sport Lundy has moved quickly to take advantage of the public hysteria. She outlined her agenda in a joint press release with the Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare:
“This week the Government introduced legislation to strengthen ASADA’s powers to enable the full and unhindered investigation of these issues,” Senator Lundy said.
“If persons of interest refuse to cooperate with ASADA investigations they will be liable for civil penalties.
“To support these new powers I have doubled the investigative resources at ASADA to ensure athletes and support staff who are involved in unethical behaviour will be scrutinised.
“In addition, I will be discussing with State and Territory Sports Minister’s measures which we can implement to further strengthen the National Integrity of Sport Unit.”
Australian Citizens Compelled to Cooperate with ASADA Under Penalty of Law
The new amendment to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 could give ASADA unprecedented power and control over who will be forced to testify and what they will be forced to reveal.
If the amendment is passed, ASADA Chief Executive Officer Aurora Andruska can legally compel any person to cooperate with ASADA. The new power is not restricted to athletes and related sports personnel but includes any Australian citizen thought to have information of a potential doping violation.
ASADA CEO Andruska would be able to issue an legally-binding “disclosure notice” compelling individuals to (a) attend an interview to answer questions; (b) give information of the kind specified in the notice; and (c) produce documents or things of the kind specified in the notice.
Individuals are stripped of any rights allowing them to avoid self-incrimination. They are legally compelled to provide any “answer, information, document or thing might tend to incriminate the person or expose the person to a penalty.”
The failure of an individual to comply with a “disclosure” notice, attend the ASADA interview, answer question or otherwise refuse to provide requested documents or information can result in a civil penalty.
The civil penalty is listed at 30 penalty units per violation. In Australian law, a penalty unit represents the amount of money applied as a pecuniary penalty for violations of statute law. A penalty unit is $110 under federal law. Each violation would therefore result in a $3300 fine.
Currently, any witness can refuse to cooperate with ASADA and most certainly have the right to avoid self-incrimination. This is all subject to change very soon.
The authoritarian bill has many supporters within the government in addition to Senator Lundy and Senator Clare. John Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates and former Supreme Court Judge James Wood have put their full support behind the measure.
Australian Olympic Committee Wants to Put Athletes in Prison
Not to be outdone, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) doesn’t think civil penalties are strong enough. The AOC wants to put athletes in prison if they lie about the history of steroid and performance-enhancing drug (PED) use.
“I have not at any time breached any applicable anti-doping rule or policy, including the World Anti-Doping Code 2009, the Australian Olympic Committee’s Anti-Doping By-Law and the anti-doping rules and policies of applicable Anti-Doping Organisations, National Federations and International Federations (as those words are defined in the Australian Olympic Committee’s Anti-Doping By-Law) (each an “Applicable Anti-Doping Rule or Policy”).”
Only athletes who have never used any performance-enhancing drugs will be permitted to represent Australia in the Olympics. If an Australian Olympic athlete lies about their doping history, they have committed a criminal offense and could be sentenced to five years in prison!
“Making a false declaration is a criminal offence and may attract significant penalties. In particular, any person who wilfully and corruptly makes a declaration knowing it to be untrue in any material particular, will be guilty of a criminal offence (Section 25 Oaths Act 1900 (NSW)). If the offence is dealt with summarily, the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment, or a fine of $5,100, or both. If the offence is dealt with on indictment, the penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment.”
What Does Australia’s War on Doping Mean for the Rest of the World?
The anti-doping crusade in Australia makes United States steroid laws and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) look tame by comparison. Australia proves that anti-doping hysteria can get worse in the rest of the world.