Cycling Australia to back up doping declaration with criminal sanctions?

Giverning body considers following Australian Olympic Committee's lead for penalties for those who lie

by Simon_MacMichael   February 18, 2013  

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Cycling Australia is considering following the lead of the country’s Olympic chiefs in having riders sign a statutory declaration regarding doping, with possible criminal sanctions for those who are subsequently discovered to have lied.

The news follows a meeting of Cycling Australia’s board this weekend at which it voted to adopt 16 recommendations from a review the government ordered into its operations in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, reports News.com.au.

Under Australian law (the Oaths Acts of the various states) penalities including jail can be imposed on those who lie when making any declaration under oath - as Cycling Australia's proposed statutory declaration would be. While the cycling body obviously has no power to institute criminal proceedings against those who lie the state does. 

Those recommendations from the Wood Review include having riders and team staff sign a declaration regarding past or present involvement in doping.

Cycling Australia now plans to meet with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to discuss whether to make that a statutory declaration.

The AOC and ASC have introduced such a statutory declaration into the selection process for athletes hoping to be chosen to represent the country at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"We will discuss the declaration recommendation with the Olympic Committee because I think it would be particularly useful for most sports to be on the same page," said Cycling Australia’s president, Klaus Mueller.

"So while we are committed to a declaration policy, whether that's a statutory declaration or just declaration, is yet to be determined."

He added that adopting a statutory declaration would be in line with Cycling Australia’s "very firm position" in anti-doping, saying, “we want people to know it is a bloody serious document."

Mueller went on: “I think the community generally understands the seriousness of a false [statutory] declaration. One way or another we will go at least as far as Woods recommended."

Among the recommendations of the Woods Report was that there should be more doping controls and not just at elite level.

Mueller highlighted that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency had carried out tests at a club-level event, news of which had been passed through the "cycling grapevine" which he said would make amateur cyclists aware that it wasn’t just elite cyclists being targeted.

Following publication of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Reasoned Decision in that case last October, Matt White left his positions as sports director at Orica GreenEdge and men’s road co-ordinator at Cycling Australia after admitting to doping while riding for US Postal.

Cycling Australia also lost its vice-president Stephen Hodge, who finished the Tour de France six times, after he too confessed to having used performance enhancing substances during his road career.

It is not just cycling that is under the spotlight when it comes to doping in Australia.

Earlier this month, the Australian Crime Commission published a report which established strong links between organised crime and doping in a range of sports including Australian Rules Football and Rugby League.

7 user comments

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Criminal sanctions? Do these bodies have the power to apply criminal sanctions? Or do you mean something else? I suspect the answers might be "no" and "yes", and that your use of "criminal" in this article is a bit confusing.

posted by Paul J [431 posts]
19th February 2013 - 9:22

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Paul J wrote:
Criminal sanctions? Do these bodies have the power to apply criminal sanctions? Or do you mean something else? I suspect the answers might be "no" and "yes", and that your use of "criminal" in this article is a bit confusing.

Quoting here from the AOC statutory declaration:

"Making a false declaration is a criminal offence and may attract significant penalties. In particular, any person who wilfully and corruptly makes a declaration knowing it to be untrue in any material particular, will be guilty of a criminal offence (Section 25 Oaths Act 1900 (NSW)). If the offence is dealt with summarily, the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment, or a fine of $5,100, or both. If the offence is dealt with on indictment, the penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment."

Spent four years studying law so it's an area I do like to check before going to print Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7517 posts]
19th February 2013 - 10:22

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Nice one, Simon Wink

Any news on what the implications might be for say a rider who signed a declaration that they had doped in the past?

posted by Sam1 [206 posts]
19th February 2013 - 10:45

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Simon: That's a key detail that didn't come across to me from the article. Smile Though, will it be these bodies who get to decide on the prosecution of the offence? I would assume it would be a public body or prosecutor that'd decide, as is the norm elsewhere in similar legal systems. The review itself says, in 3.71:

"In this respect, I consider it improbable that law
enforcement agencies would initiate criminal proceedings for the making of a false declaration (except in the most egregious cases)."

It also notes any such prosecutions could actually hinder ASADAs' own anti-doping investigations.

I think the story as it stands still perhaps risks giving an impression of Australian sports bodies being able to apply criminal sanctions to dopers, when they will not have that power, and when it's not envisaged that power will be exercised (by whoever has it). Wink

posted by Paul J [431 posts]
19th February 2013 - 11:04

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Hi Paul J

We've added an extra para explaining how the law on oaths works in Australia.

Reading the Australian media the impression seems to be very firmly that politicians and law enforcement agencies will prosecute and indeed the AOC has lobbied successfully for an amendment to the country's anti-doping laws giving increased investigatory powers with strong civil penalties for non-compliance.

The Australian Crime Commission report seems to have moved things on from where they were even when the Government started its review in to Cycling Australis and has made the whole subject of doping a political hot potato in a country that takes its sport very seriously indeed.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4112 posts]
19th February 2013 - 13:10

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Cheers Tony!

posted by Paul J [431 posts]
19th February 2013 - 15:04

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I think the ozzies have taken a very positive step tieing in statutory legislation with contract law. The downside is that would only be applicable in the country in that country but given that it is invariably based on the English system, other countries might follow the lead. There is of course already contractual provisions with obtaining UCI license I imagine and sanctions in relation to doping but as Mueller pointed out he was 'bloody serious' about taking a firm stance in anti doping measures. Well done Oz Big Grin

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
21st February 2013 - 11:24

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