Title Community Affairs Legislation Committee
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority
Database Estimates Committees
Date 24-10-2018
Committee Name Community Affairs Legislation Committee
Page 161
Questioner Farrell, Sen Don
Di Natale, Sen Richard
Responder Mr Sharpe
Mr Mullaly
System Id committees/estimate/85178966-bdae-4a37-982c-5a847f8e63c1/0006

Community Affairs Legislation Committee - 24/10/2018 - Estimates - HEALTH PORTFOLIO - Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority

Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority


Senator FARRELL: Mr Sharpe, can you tell us whether you anticipate that ASADA's new operating model will require additional funding or a different funding profile, given the increased focus on intelligence?

Mr Sharpe : The injection of new funding, to the tune of $3.8 million earlier announced in the budget this year, has funded the new model that we have launched; with a key focus on hiring, intelligence and facilitators.

Senator FARRELL: Is that working?

Mr Sharpe : Absolutely. Already at this point, our engagement strategy that goes with that, under our three key pillars, has enabled us to gain greater access to intelligence. But we've been able to compile the first ever assessment of doping in this country. That's just been completed. It is an assessment of 20 years of data to better inform how we move forward.

Senator FARRELL: Are you doing that at the Invictus Games?

Mr Sharpe : No, Senator, we're not part of the Invictus Games.

Senator FARRELL: Does that mean that there's no testing?

Mr Sharpe : My understanding is there's no testing.

Senator FARRELL: Are there any other changes you foresee in terms of how ASADA will need to be resourced, whether that be in the terms of funding, revenue or staffing?

Mr Sharpe : The model, based on a number of reviews that have been conducted—you would have seen that in our corporate plan—

Senator FARRELL: Yes.

Mr Sharpe : has actually informed our new operating model, and we've been given funding to be able to enact that model.

Senator DI NATALE: Mr Sharpe, I had some other questions for the previous witnesses, but I'll put those on notice. My questions relate to testing and anti-doping violations. How many anti-doping violations have we had?

Mr Sharpe : This financial year, Senator?

Senator DI NATALE: Yes.

Mr Sharpe : I'll pass that over to my—

Senator DI NATALE: And how many tests?

Mr Sharpe : Just in excess of 5,200 tests in total over the last financial year.

Mr Mullaly : In the financial year 2016-17, we've had sanctions imposed on 34 individuals across 13 sports. In 2017-18, we had 29 sanctions imposed across 14 sports.

Senator DI NATALE: As a proportion of tests, are they broadly similar?

Mr Mullaly : They are, there was only a five-sanction difference across those two years.

Senator DI NATALE: And the same number of tests?

Mr Mullaly : Proportionately, it's very similar.

Senator DI NATALE: About 5,000 tests done?

Mr Mullaly : Correct.

Senator DI NATALE: How many of those have had their hearing through the Court of Arbitration for Sport?

Mr Mullaly : I'll have to take that on notice. We have had some hearings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Senator DI NATALE: And how many—obviously accepting it was just a sanction after the violation? Perhaps you could take that on notice. With regard to the athlete biological passport, it's a pretty invasive testing procedure. Do you agree with that?

Mr Sharpe : Yes.

Senator DI NATALE: What's the basis for it?

Mr Sharpe : The basis for that is forming the athlete's biological passport to see if, in any way, that has been altered.

Senator DI NATALE: So you're building a profile of the patient's physiology through that, aren't you?

Mr Sharpe : Yes, that's correct.

Senator DI NATALE: And you're just looking for changes over time.

Mr Sharpe : Looking for dramatic or significant changes.

Senator DI NATALE: Whose testing procedures do you follow? Is it WADA's?

Mr Sharpe : Yes, that's correct.

Senator DI NATALE: WADA's guidelines state that you guys are responsible for adopting, implementing and administering programming in accordance with their guidelines. That's right isn't it?

Mr Sharpe : That's correct.

Senator DI NATALE: In order to do that, do you have an athlete passport management unit?

Mr Sharpe : Yes, we have a science unit that manages that.

Senator DI NATALE: Do they give recommendations regarding the procedures? Do you guys follow the procedures from that unit?

Mr Sharpe : That's right. Our field staff and the way that is conducted are certainly under a very strict regime in compliance with WADA.

Senator DI NATALE: Do we have a WADA accredited testing laboratory?

Mr Sharpe : That's correct.

Senator DI NATALE: They're responsible for blood, urine—that's basically what you use it for?

Mr Sharpe : Yes.

Senator DI NATALE: And with urine, you can look at steroid profiles and so on. That is one of the reasons you do it?

Mr Sharpe : Correct.

Senator DI NATALE: Does the laboratory then issue a certificate of analysis or a lab documentation package to give to the athlete that they've tested?

Mr Sharpe : Yes, it is issued. It's part of a sanctioned regime under the National Anti-Doping scheme.

Mr Mullaly : The laboratory issues a certificate of analysis in the event that there's an adverse analytical finding or an atypical finding. The laboratory documentation pack is made available to athletes, should they choose to access that particular document.

Senator DI NATALE: So your procedure is that you do issue that certificate of analysis to somebody who's had an adverse finding?

Mr Mullaly : Correct.

Senator DI NATALE: Do you provide any additional information to help interpret those results? How does it work, if you've had an adverse finding? What's the procedure for sitting down with the athlete?

Mr Mullaly : We follow the procedure that is set out in the legislation, in terms of the documentation that we have to provide to the athletes, and also the requirements that have to go into the letter, in terms of providing athletes with opportunities to make submissions and the like. Also, if you go right from the beginning of the process, after someone gets that certificate of analysis, there's the B sample question—the elections for athletes to have their B sample analysed, and go through that process. Everything that goes into the letter and correspondence to the athlete is set out in the National Anti-Doping scheme.

Senator DI NATALE: I understand. You don't make media comments, obviously, while an investigation is under way?

Mr Sharpe : That's correct, although there is an exception to that in the act.

Senator DI NATALE: What are the consequences of revealing names of athletes before hearings have been completed?

Mr Sharpe : It's a sanction under the act that no comment can be made under the act publicly around an athlete or the case, unless there is public comment made by or attributed to the athlete. In that case, if it's around correcting the record, the legislation enables that.

Senator DI NATALE: Can you guys disclose a positive test or a doping violation before the athlete's been found to have committed a violation, and before a hearing is concluded?

Mr Mullaly : The World Anti-Doping Code rules, which are the world rules that everyone follows, have something that is referred to as a 'provisional suspension'. There is a requirement for ASADA, if it gets an adverse analytical finding, to notify the sport, in addition to the athlete, so that the sport can take appropriate steps to provisionally suspend the athlete and stop them from competing. It's not the case that ASADA can just quarantine information and sit on it, because there are practical measures under the code that we have to follow.

Senator DI NATALE: How does that translate to confidentiality for the athlete? How does that work?

Mr Mullaly : Sport anti-doping policies, which, essentially, form part of the contractual agreement between the athletes and the sport, which incorporate all of the anti-doping rules, have the provision in there that athletes sign up to knowing that, if they test positive to an adverse analytical finding—

Senator DI NATALE: But this is someone who could subsequently not have that test confirmed. Say there is a B sample or a complementary analysis and the person is subsequently found not to have had a violation. But prior to that you're able still to suspend the athlete?

Mr Mullaly : Correct.

Senator DI NATALE: And that obviously then can become public, and that person can obviously have significant damage to their reputation because they're basically labelled a drug cheat. They're suspended. Even though you're not saying publicly that that's happened, it becomes a public matter because of the actions that you've taken, and then the person subsequently is found not to have committed a violation.

Mr Mullaly : That's what the world rules require. If there's an adverse analytical finding in an A sample for certain substances—and they tend to be the more serious substances—it's a mandatory provisional suspension, so there's not an option, in terms of ASADA following and applying the World Anti-Doping Code, not to do that. So that is a requirement that we have to follow and implement.

Senator DI NATALE: So, under the world code, you've basically got no choice. When you get the A sample with a positive test, you take action. Even though you're not allowed to speak publicly unless there's a specific reason to correct the record, just by taking action it becomes a public matter. Then the person has their B sample or some other complementary test done, and it's negative. That person has to basically live with the fact that they're labelled a drug cheat even though they're not.

Mr Mullaly : In theory that's a possibility, but I've got to say that, in almost 12 years of my time at ASADA, I haven't had that experience where a B sample has not confirmed an A. So the level of risk or the possibility of that happening is not something which occurs frequently at all.

Senator DI NATALE: All right. Thanks.

Proceedings suspended from 18:51 to 19:53