Organised crime and drugs in sport

Sport & Events eBulletin - 8 February 2013


The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) yesterday released a report entitled "Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport" (Report) which identified, among other things, potential use of prohibited substances by professional athletes across a number of Australian sporting codes. 

The Report alleges that players may have been administered experimental substances not approved for human use, with sporting officials, coaches, support staff, sports scientists, doctors and pharmacists implicated in facilitating the doping. 

The ACC is currently investigating organised crime involvement with Australian sport, including drug distribution and match-fixing.

These announcements come after the recent controversy embroiling the Australian Football League (AFL) and allegations related to doping. 

On 6 February 2013, the Federal Government introduced the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013(Bill) to strengthen the powers of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to allow full and unhindered investigation of the issue.


Quick links:


ACC report: Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport

Click here for an overview of the ACC's report


Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013 (Bill)

 The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act to strengthen ASADA's investigative functions and enhance information sharing arrangements with other government agencies.

ASADA's powers under the amendments 

If the Bill is passed by parliament, ASADA will have the power to issue a notice (referred to as a 'disclosure notice') compelling persons to assist ASADA’s investigation into anti-doping rule violations. A disclosure notice can compel a person to attend interviews, give information, provide documents, materials (including electronic materials and products) and things (such as video cameras, medications, training bags) relevant to an inquiry conducted under the National Anti-Doping Scheme. 

Importantly, ASADA will be able to compel any person it reasonably believes to have possession of the information, documents or things – not just athletes or their support personnel. 

The amendments provide that self-incrimination is not an excuse for failing to comply with a disclosure notice. This means that a person does not have any basis for refusing to comply with the requirements of a disclosure notice unless he or she does not actually possess the information or he or she been unable to obtain the information after taking all reasonable steps. However, the information provided will not be admissible as evidence against that person in criminal proceedings (unless the information is false or misleading) or civil proceedings unrelated to the proceedings arising from the ASADA investigation. 

Consequences for breaches 

Failure to comply with the requirements of a disclosure notice can result in civil penalties of up to 30 penalty units (or $5100).
Furthermore, the Bill provides for the establishment of an infringement notice scheme under the ASADA Regulations as an alternative to court proceedings. ASADA may be given power to issue fines of up to 6 penalty units (or $1020) to anyone alleged to have contravened the requirements of a disclosure notice. 

Information sharing arrangements 

The Bill expands ASADA's current information sharing arrangements with government agencies, such as the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Australia Post will be able to assist ASADA by confirming the name of the recipient of a package suspected of containing substances prohibited under anti-doping arrangements where the package is sent to a post office box. 

Amendment to ADRVP's role

The Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel (ADRVP) currently reviews the evidence presented by ASADA to determine possible anti-doping rule violations. The ADRVP also currently recommends sanctions to national sporting organisations. Under the Bill, the ADRVP will not recommend any sanctions, but rather, each sport shall determine sanctions in accordance with the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code. However, ASADA will have the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if it does not agree with the sanction imposed by the sport. 

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Richard Redman

Richard Redman from our Sports Business Group previously worked at the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and UK Anti-Doping. Richard has a wealth of experience in anti-doping related matters and integrity issues in sport. He is available to provide advice and assistance to sporting organisations in this specialised area.

 To hear Richard discussing the recent situation in relation to the Essendon Football Club on 3AW and Channel 10, click the links below. 


Further information

All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.