News National Powerful new sports integrity body has drug cheats and match-fixers in its sights

Powerful new sports integrity body has drug cheats and match-fixers in its sights

Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in Canberra on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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The federal government has established a national agency targeting match-fixers, drug cheats and other forms of corruption in Australian sport.

The new body, Sport Integrity Australia, will combine the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), the National Integrity of Sport Unit and the national sports integrity functions of Sport Australia, described as a “one-stop shop” integrity agency.

Anti-doping agency ASADA and the Sports Betting Integrity Unit will be given increased funding and new powers to investigate claims over the next two years, before eventually being combined into the new commission.

Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie said the new body would ensure Australians retained their trust in their favourite sports.

“We are reassuring the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are involved in sport at every level – from grassroots to elite – that they can be confident their sport is better protected from doping, drug use, match fixing and criminal exploitation of athletes and events,” she said.

“In particular, we want parents to know their children are protected and be confident the sports in which they participate are clean, fair and safe.”

Australian sport has been rocked by a number of integrity scandals in recent years, including cricket’s ball-tampering scandalthe Essendon and Cronulla Sharks supplements scandalsand match-fixing claims in tennis and soccer.

Senator McKenzie said the establishment of Sport Integrity Australia body would help stop these incidents from happening in the future.

“We have seen the massive fallout from the cricket ball-tampering scandal and the loss of belief in our national cricket team and we are determined to prevent incidents like this from happening,” she said.

“Australian sports lovers deserve to know that the sport they watch and the teams they support are competing on a level playing field and playing fairly.

“When Australians – and especially our kids – see examples of sports being corrupted, it means they become disillusioned and less likely to get involved.”

The new body has been established in response to the Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements, chaired by James Wood, the former royal commissioner into police corruption, that was released in August.

David Warner and Steven Smith in Durban in March. Photo: Getty

The government agreed to almost all 52 recommendations that emerged from the year-long review, which included signing up to the Macolin Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.

Australia became the first nation outside of Europe to sign up to the convention, that allows for information-sharing between international sporting agencies to combat match fixing.

The government admitted concerns over “the significant sports integrity implications” by the provision of online in-play services by offshore gambling services, but “has no intention of changing the current policy position regarding the prohibition of online in-play wagering”.

Senator McKenzie said the new reforms would help ensure Australian sport was clean.

“These reforms send a very clear message. Australians have no tolerance for the corruption of sport,” she said.

“Sport makes a huge contribution to Australia – socially, culturally and economically and we are absolutely committed to protecting our sporting integrity now and into the future.”

ABC