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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8807

Drug Testing in Sport

Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (14:59): My question is to the Minister for Sport, Senator Lundy. Can the minister advise, given the recent revelations by the United States Anti-Doping Agency of systematic doping by the US Postal Service cycling team, how the Australian public can be assured that the Australian government is addressing doping issues in Australia?

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (14:59): Through the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority—ASADA—the Australian government is a world leader in protecting the health of athletes and the integrity of Australian sport through deterrence, detection and enforcement activities. ASADA has one of the most fully-integrated antidoping frameworks in the world and is committed to designing and delivering comprehensive education and communication programs, which include providing advice, support and services to national sporting bodies and building up its expert capability in the detection and management of alleged antidoping rule violations.

In 2011-12 alone, more than 7,000 tests were completed, including a mixture of random and targeted testing and ASADA's no-advance-notice testing. In addition, ASADA recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Crime Commission to formalise a long-standing relationship. Through this formal relationship, ASADA will have access to high-level Australian law enforcement intelligence and strengthened communication flows. The MOU strengthens ASADA's program, and this program includes the athlete biological passport. The passport is an individual electronic record of each individual athlete's biological profile developed over time from the collection of multiple blood samples.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Just resume your seat, Senator Lundy. There is too much talk going on in the chamber. It is very difficult to hear the answer when people are carrying on their own debates and discussions in this chamber. It is disorderly. Senator Lundy, continue.

Senator LUNDY: Thank you, Mr President. The athlete biological passport is different from traditional detection methods in that the passport looks at the effects of doping rather than directly detecting the prohibited substances or methods used. These are just two examples of our world-leading antidoping system. I can assure the public that this government is committed to the ongoing fight against doping in sport.

Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (15:01): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline the importance of the role of investigations alongside traditional methods of drug detection, such as blood testing, when investigating allegations of doping in sport?

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (15:02): Senator Thistlethwaite raises a very important aspect of the fight against doping in sport. Investigations are a crucial component of ASADA's work. Since 2006, about one-third of Australian athletes banned from sport for doping violations were caught without ever returning a positive result on a traditional doping test. Intelligence gathering played a key role in that.

With the extraordinary revelations of sophisticated doping from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, it is little known that it was ASADA that redefined antidoping globally with its unique investigative function. ASADA employs full-time investigators who, in addition to their work in Australia, have assisted numerous antidoping agencies around the world to establish their own intelligence program. Such is the reputation of Australia's investigations intelligence capability, ASADA will soon visit Switzerland to impart its expertise with a number of European countries.

Senator THISTLETHWAITE (New South Wales) (15:03): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate if the Australian government has made a submission to phase 2 of the World Anti-Doping Authority code review?

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (15:03): The World Anti-Doping Authority is currently reviewing its code and the Gillard government's submission identified areas where further refinement is required, or where issues with the proposed amendments were identified. Our submission to WADA identified 28 issues. The key issues covered in the government's submission revolved around the need to give the role of investigations and intelligence gathering greater prominence in the code. Included in that is a requirement that there is greater transparency in WADA's decision-making, particularly in relation to the development and review of the prohibited list and more consistency in the applications of sanctions to athletes.

Australia has a fantastic relationship with WADA and our submission reflected that. As a world leader in the antidoping program we look forward to working with WADA in the continuing review and their consideration of Australia's submission.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.