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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26339

Senator LUDWIG (2:46 PM) —My question is to Minister Coonan, the Minister representing the Minister for the Arts and Sport. Is the minister aware that Mr Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has announced overnight that WADA is considering launching an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding the allegation of drug use in Australian cycling because it believes the investigative process into AIS cycling `could have been compromised'? Can the minister confirm that Sports Minister Kemp has been called to a please-explain meeting with WADA chiefs today in a vain effort to explain the government's botched handling of the investigations into the alleged injecting practices of Australian cyclists?

Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —What I can say is that Senator Kemp has had a number of meetings with a number of people since he has been in Athens and that Senator Kemp will no doubt be conveying the message that the Australian government is tough on drugs in sport. That would be the message that Senator Kemp would be conveying in Athens. Recently there have been a number of allegations that have come to the fore in Australia, many of which have been actually unjustified allegations which have been peddled by Senator Faulkner and were largely criticised in the Johnson report, which said that there was absolutely no foundation for some of the claims that Senator Faulkner made, some of the allegations that people were holed up in a room and all shooting up drugs. That is certainly not what was found through the Johnson report.

It is not surprising that Australia is very well regarded for its antidoping practices. It has one of the most rigorous antidoping programs in the world and it is supported by research, education, testing, legislation and, of course, a number of regulatory initiatives to fight the use of drugs in sport. So WADA is well aware that Australia takes its obligations as to doping in sport very seriously. We have been pleased to receive, as recently as in January this year, advice from WADA that `it continues to regard Australia as one of the foremost leaders in the world in the fight against doping'. I am sure that if Senator Kemp were having any conversations at all it would be to share experiences as to how you do have a rigorous and first-class antidoping regime in sport.

I am sure that the chair of WADA, Mr Dick Pound, is well aware of how important it is to balance the rights of athletes with the need for transparency in these matters. These include the consideration of privacy and confidentiality matters and in fact testing the allegations, which Senator Faulkner did not do. Senator Faulkner made an allegation and, of course, the subsequent investigations have shown that the substance of the allegation that Senator Faulkner made about a number of people all locked in a room and all shooting up is absolutely false.

Senator LUDWIG —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister tell us what the Johnson report is? Also, is the minister aware that Mr Dick Pound has stated that he is awaiting copies of all the information regarding investigations into the cycling case from Minister Kemp in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not WADA will appeal directly to the Court of Arbitration for Sport? Can the minister confirm that Minister Kemp will immediately provide copies of the highly secretive Stanwix report, together with the Anderson report appendices, which are assumed to hold vital information pertinent to this case? Can the minister also tell the Senate why these appendices have been hidden for so long and when they will be made available to the Senate so that a full analysis of all the information of these investigations can in fact be made?

Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —I am indebted to Senator Ludwig for reminding me that in fact I was meaning to refer to the Anderson report, not the Johnson report. What I was saying and will continue to say is that what the report refers to is that a lot of the allegations that were made, in particular the allegation that room 121 was used as a shooting gallery by up to six cyclists locking themselves in several nights a week, were not found by the report to have any credence. Senator Kemp has answered a number of questions about certain parts of the report, which contains confidential information. I would assume that the opposition would not actually disagree that athletes are entitled to some privacy. When Senator Kemp gets advice, he will—as he said in an earlier answer to this question—inform the Senate as to what parts of the report can be made available. (Time expired)