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Table Of Contents
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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Home and Community Care
(Ms MACKLIN, Mrs MOYLAN)
(Mr SINCLAIR, Mr DOWNER)
Workplace Relations Legislation
(Ms ELLIS, Mrs MOYLAN)
Bank Fees and Charges
(Ms GAMBARO, Mr COSTELLO)
Workplace Relations Legislation
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mrs MOYLAN)
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(Mr BOB BALDWIN, Mr TIM FISCHER)
Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme
(Mr CREAN, Mr ANDERSON)
DAS Regional Offices
(Mr ENTSCH, Mr JULL)
Research and Development
(Mr MARTYN EVANS, Mr McGAURAN)
(Mr McARTHUR, Mr WARWICK SMITH)
(Mr FILING, Mr PROSSER)
Apprenticeships and Traineeships
(Mr NEVILLE, Dr KEMP)
Logging and Woodchipping
(Dr LAWRENCE, Mr ANDERSON)
Hospital Services for Veterans
(Dr NELSON, Mr BRUCE SCOTT)
(Mr LATHAM, Mr ANDERSON)
- Home and Community Care
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- SYDNEY 2000 GAMES INDICIA AND IMAGES PROTECTION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS DRUG AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AMENDMENT (No. 1) BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION (REPEAL, TRANSITIONAL AND MISCELLANEOUS) BILL 1996
- CUSTOMS AND EXCISE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 1996
- HOUSING ASSISTANCE BILL 1996
- BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 1996
- WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- Start of Business
- SYDNEY 2000 GAMES (INDICIA AND IMAGES) PROTECTION BILL 1996
- AUSTRALIAN SPORTS DRUG AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- CRIMES AMENDMENT (CONTROLLED OPERATIONS) BILL 1996
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Truck Dock Pty Ltd and National Hearing Aid Systems Pty Ltd: Shareholders
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
(Mr McClelland, Dr Wooldridge)
PAYE and Other Taxpayers
(Mr Eoin Cameron, Mr Costello)
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
The Treasury Staff: Electoral Division of Wills
(Mr Kelvin Thomson, Mr Costello)
Medicare Services: Electoral Division of Wills
(Mr Kelvin Thomson, Dr Wooldridge)
Delayed Payments to Claimants
(Mr Rocher, Dr Wooldridge)
- Mr Filing, Mrs Moylan
Medicare Offices: Staff Numbers
(Mr Price, Dr Wooldridge)
(Mr Pyne , Dr Wooldridge)
Workers' Compensation Claims: Delays
(Mr Cobb, Dr Wooldridge)
- Truck Dock Pty Ltd and National Hearing Aid Systems Pty Ltd: Shareholders
Thursday, 20 June 1996
Mr COBB(11.39 a.m.) —I too am pleased to contribute to the debate on the Australian Sports Drug Agency Amendment Bill 1996 and to echo the sentiments of previous speakers from both sides of the chamber. I think it is tremendous when we get bipartisan support for something that will keep Australia near the head of the world in keeping undesirable drugs out of sport.
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Australian Sports Drug Agency Act to facilitate more effective cooperation between the ASDA and international sporting organisations, to increase the effectiveness of Australia's anti-doping program and to set out clear procedures, rights and obligations to reduce challenges based on legal technicalities in relation to positive tests. I will return to that later.
Particularly when we are to have the Sydney Games in the year 2000, we want to make sure that the games are the Olympic Games and not the `Synthetic Games'. Drugs in sport go back
not only many years but also many centuries. In the third century BC, in the ancient Greek Olympics, athletes were using mushrooms and meat in strange ways to try and enhance their performance. Milo of Croton, one of the great athletes of the past, was supposed to have used special herbs and magic potions, eaten raw meat and done all sorts of strange things to enhance his performance. He died of an early massive heart attack, I heard, and perhaps that was some precursor to what has been happening in recent years here.
Anti-doping initiatives in the world did not really kick off until about 1960 when we had the Council of Europe—21 western European countries which passed a resolution against the use of doping substances in sport. Later, around 1965, with the increased use of drugs in Olympic Games, the IOC started to take a particular interest in the issue and adopted a resolution. Things have moved on from there. Drug testing was instituted for the first time at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. Drug testing programs commenced in Australia in the early 1980s. The Australian Sports Drug Agency was established in 1990 and we now have a testing laboratory in Sydney which is IOC accredited and which will be the one, as I understand it, that will be doing the testing at the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000, only four years away.
The latest figures I have for 1994-95 show that in this country we have conducted 3,108 tests, 99 per cent of which were clear. There were 34 positive tests, which made up about one per cent of all the tests, and there was a high prevalence of those positive tests in the sports in which performance is enhanced by drugs—athletics, rowing, weight-lifting in particular, swimming, canoeing and the like. We hope that the number of positive drug test results can be reduced even further.
In this country and around the world we need more out-of-competition testing, which is happening, so that we can build up baseline information about the levels of certain drugs—some of which, such as testosterone, naturally occur in the body—and so that we can pick up the cheats out of competition. I have been disappointed to see the breakdown in anti-doping agreements between certain countries, such as the agreement between Australia and China whereby we were going to do a lot of such out-of-competition testing over there.
It is interesting to look at the Chinese figures, which have attracted most comment in recent times. If you take the top 25 in any particular swimming event in the world, China had only six listings in 1991 but, in the following year, that figure had increased fourfold to 24 listings. In the year following that, 1993, the figure had increased fourfold again, to 96 listings. That in itself was suspicious enough, but what was overwhelmingly circumstantial, as far as the evidence goes, was that out of those listings 95 of the 96 were female. China had only one male swimmer in the top 25 in any swimming event in the world, but they had 95 top female listings.
At the Perth world championships in 1991, China won six medals and, at the next world championships at Rome in 1994, they won 24 medals. All their medal winners were female. In fact, they could not even get one male swimmer into a final. At the Asian Games in October 1994, China won all 15 gold medals in the female events. They were pouring testosterone derivatives, particularly the anabolic steroids, into their females and turning them into half-males, if you like, and cleaning up the pool—which made it very unfair for everybody else.
What is sometimes overlooked in this is the undesirable side effects that flow from these drugs. We all hear about the liver damage and the diabetes problems later on. We do not hear so much about the potential infertility that may flow from the massive use of these drugs. In that sense, we are really talking about breaches of human rights. I would like to involve groups such as Amnesty International and have them outlaw these drugs in their annual reports as breaches of human rights. To pour these drugs into innocent girls is an absolute scandal, I believe.
On top of that, there are other side effects. For instance, at press conferences, we hear girls with deep, husky voices. We see physical side effects, such as excessive body hair, particularly facial hair; thickening and protrusion of the mandible, the lower jaw bone; and so on. I have dragged out a photo of Kristin Otto from the last Olympic Games she attended. The square jaw is quite prominent. She was probably a very attractive girl in her youth; hopefully she has reverted to being an attractive female. I think there is a case to tighten up the level of drug testing over and above the present IOC standards. At the moment, the testosterone to epitestosterone ratios are quite generous. Epitestosterone is the precursor of testosterone in the normal body; it goes around at about a one to one ratio. Occasionally you can have an abnormal level as high as three to one. The last IOC standards allowed levels as high as six to one. In other words, you take a low level of these drugs and get away with it.
The Stasi files—the East German secret police files—have been released since the fall of the Berlin Wall and it is interesting to look at the history of the swimmers in those days. Every female in the East German team was on massive doses of these things. If you think six to one is high, some of them were coming in between nine to one and 12 to one. Kristin Otto, whose photo I held up, had a level of 17 to one. She probably had more testosterone in her than the Canberra Raiders and the Collingwood Australian Rules teams put together. That is a tragedy indeed. Not only was East Germany cheating in a similar manner to China in recent years but the damage they were doing to those girls' lives in later life with infertility and body changes is an absolute disgrace. The governments must have known this was going on and they should be condemned for it.
It is a very serious situation, indeed, and it is getting more sophisticated and harder to pick up in many ways. Of concern are the flushing and masking agents that are used: the diuretics flush out and dilute the urine before tests are taken; the masking agents block the kidney from excreting testosterone. If athletes know a test is coming up in competition, they can take these flushing and masking drugs up to three days before and within 48 hours they can get their levels down under that six to one ratio. Quite frankly, I do not think that is good enough. I am a strong advocate of constant out-of-competition testing. I know this costs a fortune: many of these tests cost hundreds of dollars each. The high resolution spectrometer machine that has just been put in at Atlanta cost something like $860,000 and it is going to be about $800 or $900—I presume that is in US dollars—per test. It is very expensive and it is totally regrettable that we have got to waste money in this way. But if it has to be done to eliminate this, it has to be done and that is all there is to it. I do not think anyone would disagree with that.
It is interesting to look at the banned substances, as opposed to the restricted substances. There is a list of five categories. There are stimulants, such as amphetamines and caffeine. There are narcotics, such as heroin and pethidine. The dextropropoxyphene, Digesic, that Samantha Riley took is contained in headache tablets. There are the anabolic agents—the steroids, the testosterone that I have been talking about, and the beta-2 agonists. The diuretics are also banned. The peptides and glycoprotein hormones and the analogues of these are also prohibited. It is those that are causing particular concern.
We need to do a lot of work on these human growth hormones and substances like IGF-1, which is a 70 amino acid insulin-type chemical that can enhance strength and power by up to five to 15 per cent. If you are on it in massive doses, it can cost $5,000 to $7,000 a day. I am alarmed to hear that athletes are taking it, even in lower doses, which may run into only a couple of hundred dollars a day or less, trying to enhance their strength and power. It causes swelling of the cells in the body, including brain cells. Because it mimics insulin, and blood sugar levels can drop, people can pass into diabetic comas in certain circumstances. It can enlarge the heart and can eventually kill you. The more work we do to detect these sorts of substances, the better.
We have moved a long way over the last decade or two. Back in Rome in 1987, when Ben Johnson won the 100 metres, it was strongly rumoured that he turned up positive. Nobody did much about it. The next year at the Olympics, when he turned up positive again, he was banned. Nowadays, hopefully, the modern detecting machines—such as those, as I have mentioned, that they have installed at Atlanta—will be able to pick up these sorts of drugs, even if they have been used months before. Hopefully, those reports are accurate. But there are other drugs—drugs that naturally flow in the body, like the human growth hormones—where our work is also in the very early stages. In fact, the cheats in some cases are moving ahead of us. A great deal of work is yet to be carried out on those sorts of things.
Lastly, in the time allowed to me, I want to mention that there are great difficulties on the chemistry and the biochemistry side in detecting these things, but we are also in the infancy stages of the legal aspects of what to do when these drugs are detected. It is a very complex area, and the legal precedents are still evolving.
It is interesting to look at some of the history in this country. Martin Vinnicombe, that magnificent cyclist of a few years ago, turned up his first positive test to stanozolol. He had a two-year suspension by the Australian cycling authority. He subsequently admitted that he had taken that drug, a steroid derivative. To cut a long story short, he appealed, and it was eventually overturned. Even though the test performed by the Canadian Anti-Doping Authority—I presume that was at the University of Quebec—conformed with Canadian law and even though it conformed at the time with international protocols, it did not conform with the Australian Sports Drug Agency Act. On a technicality, that was overturned. So, even though he had returned a positive result, which was subsequently admitted, within the meaning of the Australian act it could not be accepted. It was a technicality. It is these sorts of things that have to be dealt with.
Subsequent to that, there were Stephen Pate and Carey Hall. Following the 1991 world cycling championships, they also returned positives for anabolic steroids. Again, the Australian Professional Cycling Council, the APCC, put a two-year professional ban on those two athletes. They appealed that ban using the Tutty rugby league case of earlier years. I think it was about 1971 when that came up. They said that this was an unreasonable restraint of trade. They could have lost up to $200,000 a year in income because they could not attend the world championships: cyclists have to compete in Australia to qualify for the world championships. It was taken to court where it was argued that the international counterpart, the Union of Cyclists Internationale, the UCI, had imposed a lesser ban on them than the cycling body in Australia had. They argued that, because the UCI had imposed a lesser penalty, they should also have a lesser penalty imposed upon them out here. Because the APCC did not have a lot of money to fight this case, it was eventually forced into an out-of-court settlement.
There was also a very similar case to that in 1991 involving a fellow called Robertson. He also turned up positive to a steroid. Again, correctly, I believe, the Australian Professional Cycling Council put a two-year ban on him competing in Australia. After a long, drawn out battle of appeals, our cycling body here, strapped for cash, could not afford the lawyers and, again, had to cave in. That was most unfortunate. I know we have budgetary restraints but it is a terrible position when our sporting bodies, doing the right thing, are forced into this sort of situation where they cannot fight this in the courts.
I hope the minister will be addressing that particular aspect. We cannot place too high a priority on getting drugs out of sport in Australia, and in getting consistent protocols, procedures and links between Australia and other countries around the world. We need to have standardised and uniform drug testing procedures and penalties in as many countries around the world as we can. We need to do that through the proper international forum, such as the IOC, so that we can cut out all this nonsense of technicalities and appeals. The sooner that is done, the better. The sooner athletes can compete against each other on an equal footing, and not on an unequal chemical footing, the better it will be—not only because of athletes but also because of human rights.
I commend the work that the minister has done on this bill. I compliment the opposition for supporting this bill in the manner that it has. I hope Australia can continue to move forward as a world leader in this particular area. We can hold our heads up high. We can lead the way and say to the rest of the world, and to those that may be dragging the chain a little—China, for instance—that this is something that we place a very high priority upon indeed.