Sharing Sport Science and Sport Medicine Principles

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:

  1. Staff integrity and capability (the qualifications of sports science and medicine staff and their adherence to a code of conduct)
  2. Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy framework (a regularly reviewed supplements policy, medication policy and injection policy)
  3. Education (of coaches, athletes and staff in relation to Sport Science and Sport Medicine policies and any changes which take place)
  4. Detection and enforcement (clearly defined sanctions for breaches of Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy and a confidential process to report suspected breaches)
  5. 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).

5169282378_a62c7bbafdThe 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.

Photo Credit

Cross-country (Herald Post ,CC BY-NC 2.0)



Perhaps it is a product of age but I hope not.

The product … a commitment to the integrity of sport through an absolute acceptance of the rules and laws of games.

Last week I wrote about the play spirit that connects us in games and sport. I think it is an immensely powerful connection.

Reading USADA’s report on the Lance Armstrong investigation was an overwhelming reminder that rules do not bring about conformity but a different kind of non-conformity. I wondered naively why any athlete would seek to dope if our contract in sport is with the essence of playfulness.

I do struggle with arguments that emphasise that “there is a lot at stake” to rationalise any form of cheating. I am nervous that such arguments transform our threshold of repugnance (Elias) and increase our selective indignation (Lunn).

I did like Matt Hickey’s take on these issues in a Drum post. He observes “Winning isn’t everything, but the existing incentive structure for athletes certainly places a large emphasis on it – and it comes with increasingly large costs”.

My hope is that we can address the incentive structure in all sport, starting with the nation state. In my naivety I do hope we have gone beyond equating winning in international competition as an index of status. I wonder if we might develop an alternative indicator … evidence of athletes, coaches and scientists working to support acceptance of the laws and rules of games. What a remarkable sport system we would have without a Prisoner’s Dilemma.


Photo Credit

Rainbow Valley

Simulation as Deception

I am very naive about cheating.

I have tried to bear in mind the wisdom contained in the advice that “rules do not bring about conformity, rather they bring about a different kind of non-conformity”.

A recent ABC Science article has drawn attention to a paper from October 2011 that has added to my interest in understanding cheating.

Gwendolyn David, Catriona Condon, Candice Bywater, Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, and Robbie Wilson have written about deception in humans.

Data for their paper were drawn from ten televised matches from each of six professional soccer leagues.

Gwendolyn and her colleagues refer to Paul Morris and David Lewis’s (2010) paper, Tackling Diving: The Perception of Deceptive Intentions in Association Football (Soccer). (Both papers are cited in the Wikipedia page on Diving (football).)

Gwendolyn and her colleagues propose that:

Overall, our results do suggest that humans are more likely to deceive when the potential outcome is highly beneficial, thereby outweighing the potential cost. Or conversely, when the potential outcome is very costly relative to the potential benefit, it may deter the use of deception. Interestingly, deceivers did not appear to take into account the likelihood of receiving a benefit, as dive frequency increased towards the attacking goal despite the referees rewarding proportionally fewer dives in those pitch zones. This pattern suggests that the potential benefit to deceivers may be a stronger incentive to deceive than the potential cost as a deterrent. Furthermore, the absence of punishment of deceivers by referees may also encourage the use of deception by soccer players.

Much of my research into winning behaviours in football is focused on the discipline of teams. Soccer has intrigued me for a long time in this regard.

Many years ago before the advent of multiple camera perspectives and super slow motion replays, there was a debate about why professional players should seek to have an opponent sent off the field through feigning injury. In more recent times the discussion about simulation has attracted the attention of the media and FIFA law makers.

Paul Morris and David Lewis suggest “deceptive intentions … are to a degree manifest in behavior and are observable”. I wonder if the availability of a taxonomy of deceptive behaviours and video replay will act as an increasing deterrent to desperate players.

I hope so as my understanding of the spirit of a game is about the centrality of adherence to an objective code of behaviour. I take this to be the essence of integrity.

Photo Credit