Well, well, well....perhaps there's a few guilty souls around who acknowledge the injustice done to us.
Australia’s Tokyo Olympics campaign will benefit from $100 million in projected new funding as the federal government reveals plans to establish a sports lottery two years before the 2020 opening ceremony to arrest our national decline in world sport.
Sports Minister Greg Hunt will today outline a national sports plan which includes the creation of a British-style lottery as a new funding source for Australian teams and a national integrity tribunal to determine doping, match-fixing and other serious charges against athletes.
The new sports court, to be funded by government, would remove the conflict of interest at the heart of the current anti-doping regime, which requires national sporting bodies to sit in judgment of their own athletes in drugs cases.
The weakness in the current framework was exposed by the Essendon doping case, where an AFL tribunal ruling in favour of 34 footballers aroused World Anti-Doping Agency suspicion of a hometown decision. prompting it to seek a re-hearing before the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Everybody is of the view that we don’t want to have to repeat what happened with Essendon,’’ Mr Hunt told The Australian.
“If there is an independent arbiter in Australia, we would be happy with that.’’
The national sports plan — still being developed in consultation with the sports — will provide an overarching policy framework covering participation, high-performance sport, preventive health and integrity measures.
It represents the first serious attempt to fill a void identified nearly 10 years ago by the Independent Sport Panel chaired by David Crawford, which lamented the absence of a national sports policy to inform and evaluate government funding decisions.
The plan is being formulated against Australia’s slide down the Olympic standings, a shrinking sports budget and a bitter dispute between Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie and Olympic supremo John Coates. Australia’s Olympic medal haul in Rio was the smallest since Barcelona 25 years ago.
In the six years between 2010-11 and 2016-17, government allocations to the ASC dropped from $268m to $251m; a reduction in real and nominal terms. Team Great Britain, which is funded by a lottery, now gets twice as much in high-performance grants as Australia’s Olympic team.
One of the few issues Mr Wylie and Mr Coates agree on is the need for Australia to adopt a British-style lottery. Under the model being developed by Mr Hunt and Mr Wylie, the states would be reimbursed for any losses to their existing lotteries, with money left over to be set aside for sports programs managed by the ASC, Australian Institute of Sport and state-based sports institutes.
Existing state licence holders will manage state-based ticket sales, with the federal government to tender for a group to manage national, online sales.
Modelling by leading lottery operator the Tatts Group estimates that a national sports and heritage lottery would generate $50m a year in extra sport funding.
Mr Hunt’s proposed start-up date for the lottery is July 1 next year. This means Australian teams and athletes preparing for the Tokyo Games will benefit from two full years of proceeds. The bottom line for total sports funding leading up to Tokyo will be made clear in next year’s federal budget.
Mr Hunt said state governments were supportive of the lottery idea and there had been no opposition to the creation of national integrity tribunal.
The plan will also set goals for participation in community sport, and associated health outcomes, but be skewed towards Australia realising its ambitions on the global sporting stage.
Ben McDevitt, a former chief of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, has been a prominent advocate of an independent body to hear doping cases. Speaking to The Australian at the height of the Russian doping scandal, Mr McDevitt said there was an “inherent conflict of interest’’ in sports policing their own athletes.
He believes that in the Essendon case an AFL tribunal made up of two retired judges and a barrister failed to apply the correct standard of proof to the evidence gathered by his investigators.
Suspicion of another hometown decision poisoned the atmosphere on the Rio Olympics pool deck, where Chinese world champion Sun Yang was pilloried as a cheat after serving a three-month ban imposed by his national swimming federation for returning a positive test for a banned heart medication.
Mr Hunt said a retired judge would be appointed as a permanent head of the proposed new tribunal.
“Some of the professional sports are quite interested in getting away from where the AFL found itself adjudicating on itself and having a national integrity tribunal,’’ Mr Hunt said.
The national sports plan is open for public submissions until 31 July.
Mr Hunt said the government would work closely with the states, the ASC, the AOC, the Australian Paralympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Australia in developing the plan.