9th Greek Australian Legal and Medical Conference
THE ROLE OF TRIBUNALS IN ELITE SPORT
Professor Emeritus Kenneth Hardy
Proposing to present a medico-legal case as a who-dun-it with interesting points of and medical diagnosis, treatment legal dilemmas and a controversial legal outcome, it was exciting to learn that as all evidence for the case had been given in-camera. The outcome of this was that the Australian Football League (AFL) solicitors said that I was on a hiding to nothing if I presented it. In simple terms, they would see that I was prosecuted! So we move from the judges chair to the athletes point of view of what happens in doping and drug testing, and will involve mainly the AFL.
This will cover what the code is, the educational programme, the drugs commonly used in doping and how taken and their side effects, the selection of athletes for testing and how tested, and the AFL results.
In 1988 the Black Senate enquiry concerning drugs in sport made it necessary for Australian Rules football to put a doping policy in place. I was recruited to a 5 person subcommittee to set this up, the basis of my selection doing steroid research at the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne. Protests that this was with foetal sheep and not with anabolic steroids were brushed aside, and I was in for the next 14 years, as Deputy and then Medical Commissioner.
What The Code Is
Variation By The AFL
These were deleted from the banned list at the request of the club doctors because bronchial asthma is common in Australia, and Sudafed is prescribed for sinusitis common from plane travel.
This code was implemented by an Educational Program consisting of a yearly talk to each AFL club training list, coach, doctor and ancillary staff by the Commissioner and a representative of the Australian Sports Drug Testing Agency (ASDA); a booklet which contained the code, penalties and frequently asked questions by players and their answers; a 24hr phone hot line; instructions that no medicine or health potion be taken without consultation with their club doctor; that supplements and nutrients were not licensed by the Food and Drug Administration and what was on the label and what was in the bottle may not coincide; and they were told the side-effects of the common doping agents. The drug lectures included scenarios, which were scripted and were played out by the footballers.
Side effects of drugs
The side effects of anabolic steroids are death, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, cancer, liver disease, mood change and testicular atrophy (called shrinkage of the crown jewels for lecture purposes). In the following year the only side effect remembered was the latter. One must wonder whether this had some effect to the excellent record concerning steroids in the AFL.
This is run by the Commonwealth Government regulated body ASDA. Specimens are analysed by an International Olympic Committee accredited laboratory, of which there is only one in Australia (in Sydney). Testing is In Competition, which is match day and players are chosen at random from the numbers on their backs, and Out of Competition being at training, at home, out of season or targeted because of high profile.
Method: the ASDA team notify the player leaving the arena, who then stays under vision until the required specimen is collected. To date this is urine, and stripping from chest to knees is required. The sample is divided to A and B with notification of results within 6 weeks. The player may challenge the credibility of the result and go and watch or have watched the B sample be analysed.
Cheating at collection: overseas shaving cream, whisky etc. have mimicked urine. This is not possible with proper chaperoning. The bladder has been filled before athletic performance with others urine.
Most have been heard: not cheating, just doing the same as others;
inadvertent, didnt know it was banned; my drink was spiked; took
it to heal an injury; I couldnt have taken it and you are wrong.
There have been about 8000 tests over 15 years. Four cases have gone to the Tribunal; an anabolic steroid taken for repeated muscle injuries, found guilty, receives a 16 weeks suspension plus having to give a lecture tour on steroid problems; an anabolic steroid (DHEA de hydro epi androsterone) confessed to taking on doctors recommendation but tested negative, found not guilty; a narcotic given under anaesthesia during surgery, found guilty but overturned on appeal; and ecstasy taken in a junior competition, not In Competition by an AFL listed player. Probenamide a masking agent was given with penicillin for a suppurative tonsillitis, the player detected not being charged.
The AFL takes doping in sport seriously, and has put a strong educational
Copyright 2003. Greek/Australian International Legal and Medical Conference.