The AFL will meet with ASADA to investigate implementing an independent sports tribunal
THE AFL will sit down with ASADA’s incoming chief executive to investigate an independent sports tribunal to rule on drug and match-fixing breaches.
Anti-doping experts on Tuesday lauded the development as a significant breakthrough after a string of cases involving AFL players taking banned substances.
Former ASADA boss Richard Ings says a national and independent one-stop-shop for ASADA and corruption cases would remove conflict-of-interest issues.
The league is the only one of 94 Australian sports with its own anti-doping body.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed this weekend the league was prepared to discuss with ASADA how the independent panel could operate.
The Herald Sun understands the league will wait until ASADA boss Ben McDevitt is replaced in May — that appointee is still unknown — until those talks commence.
oth McDevitt and William Gillard, author of the report into West Coast’s culture problems, have urged the league to set up an independent disciplinary process.
The league would have to be convinced the tribunal would speed up cases after several lengthy delays for AFL and VFL players.
But McLachlan said the league was happy to discuss a single national sports tribunal adjudicating on serious breaches.
“We want to have a look at that, we are going to pick that up. We want to have a discussion with WADA and ASADA about how we can improve and if that’s the right course we will take it,’’ he said.
“If an independent tribunal is the best model we will go to that but that’s part of the review and the conversation we will pick up with WADA and ASADA.”
The league has an AFL anti-doping panel which rules on ASADA matters and does not believe its impartiality is a reason to join a national tribunal.
But if a new tribunal was more cost-effective and could hear evidence gathered by the league’s integrity department more quickly it could warm to the idea.
Ings said independent tribunals in New Zealand and the United Kingdom had been wildly effective.
“I am a big believer of tribunals which are completely independent of the sports over which they are making a decision,’’ he said.
“Not just the AFL or rugby league but cycling and all sorts.
“They would predominantly deal with anti-doping matters but also anti-corruption and (team) selection issues.
“These bodies would be familiar with the burdens of proof, familiar with the ASADA code, the banned list, and a centralised body can do it more effectively and get rid of the conflicts of interest.
“They would have so much expertise and experience and it will all be in the one body.”
ASADA would investigate and gather evidence of doping infractions then prosecute these cases in front of the tribunal.
Currently many Australian sports use the Court of Arbitration for Sport to hear their doping cases.