The Australian Institute of Sport has proposed principles for sport science and sport medicine as “a practical guide to assist boards and senior management of sporting organisations in performing their oversight function” in relation to Sport Science and Sport Medicine practices. (Official announcement here.)
There is an introductory video:
The principles cover five key areas:
- Staff integrity and capability (the qualifications of sports science and medicine staff and their adherence to a code of conduct)
- Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy framework (a regularly reviewed supplements policy, medication policy and injection policy)
- Education (of coaches, athletes and staff in relation to Sport Science and Sport Medicine policies and any changes which take place)
- Detection and enforcement (clearly defined sanctions for breaches of Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy and a confidential process to report suspected breaches)
- Oversight and reporting (a required reporting framework to the boards and senior management to ensure they are informed of Sport Science and Sport Medicine practices and discharge their obligations to make sure practices are up to date and follow best practice)
They are available for download at AIS Sports Science Sports Medicine Best Practice Principles (PDF).
The Principles appear at a time when the integrity of Australian sport is under intense scrutiny. In addition to the ongoing ACC and ASADA investigations, there is a growing debate about legislation to curb gambling advertising.
On 17 May the Australian Senate voted to establish an enquiry into sports science. The text of the motion was:
That the following matter be referred to the Rural Affairs and Transport Committee for inquiry and report by 27 June 2013:
The practice of sports science in Australia with regard to:
a) The current scope of practice, accreditation and regulation arrangements, for the profession;
b) the role of Boards and Management in the oversight of sports scientists inside sporting organisations;
c) the duty of care of sports scientists to athletes, and the ethical obligations of sports scientists in relation to protecting and promoting the spirit of sport;
d) avenues for reform or enhanced regulation of the profession;
e) any other related matter.
These five points (including the wide-ranging (e)) form the terms of reference of the Committee
Exercise and Sports Science Australia released its support for the Enquiry in this statement.
Earlier this year, Kevin Thompson (a colleague at the University of Canberra), discussed the need for proper accreditation. In his article in The Conversation, Kevin observed:
Australian sport should work more closely with Exercise and Sports Science Australia to deliver an industry-standard accreditation system which insures that sport scientists require accreditation to gain employment. Such an accreditation system should value competency and evidence-based practise and allow existing practitioners with years of experience, but who might not possess a PhD, to gain accreditation.
I am keen to support and encourage any system that uses open audit to assure the integrity of sport.
I do think, like Kevin, we should value experience and avoid an over-credentialised approach to assurance.
We can do this as a community of practice accepting our responsibilities as custodians of a play spirit that is nourished by a fundamental ethical commitment to professional and Professional behaviour.