RtoP 1


It has been quite a day for Australian sport.

Before I share today’s events I would like to re-introduce Gregory P Stone. Fifty-eight years ago, at the age of thirty-four, his paper, American sports: Play and display, was published in the Chicago Review (9: 83–100). In it he observes:

Play and dis-play are precariously balanced in sport, and, once that balance is upset, the whole character of sport in society may be affected. Furthermore, the spectacular element of sport may, as in the case of American professional wrestling, destroy the game. The rules cease to apply, and the “cheat” and the “spoilsport” replace the players.

Jay Coakley commented:

Stone also said that if the balance of play and dis-play were tipped so that one dominated and excluded the other, sports would cease to exist and be replaced by play or spectacle. When Stone was writing in the 1950s, he warned that sports at that time were, in his view, becoming commercialized to the point that “spectators [were beginning] to outnumber participants in overwhelming proportions, and the spectator, as the name implies, encourages the spectacular—the dis-play.”

ACC Report: Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport

Back to the future … 2013 in Australia. An ACC Report was published today.


The Report is available here ACC.

From the Report’s Overview:

In early 2012, the ACC, with the assistance of ASADA, began a project to consider the extent of use of PIEDs (Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs) by professional athletes, the size of this market and the extent of organised criminal involvement. This project focused particularly on a new form of PIEDs, known collectively as peptides and hormones. These substances may provide effects similar to anabolic steroids and are considered by users to be next generation PIEDs. Some of these substances are perceived by athletes to be undetectable, making them attractive to those seeking to gain an unfair advantage.
This report provides a summary of findings from this project. In particular, the ACC has now identified use of these substances, which are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), by professional athletes in a number of sports in Australia. Widespread use has been identified or is suspected in a number of professional sporting codes.
In detailing the nature and extent of this threat to the professional sporting industry and the Australian Community, this report provides an important opportunity for Government, regulatory bodies and the sporting industry to address these issues head on.

A few hours ago Jason Clare (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice) and Kate Lundy (Minister for Sport) published a joint press release.


Jason Clare, Kate Lundy, and John Lawler spoke at a press conference for the publication of the Report. Members of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) were present too including the CEOs of AFL and Cricket.

Reflecting on the Day’s Events

I was thinking of the warnings Gregory Stone gave us fifty-eight years ago when I read that:

  • The investigation identified widespread use of prohibited substances including peptides, hormones and illicit drugs in professional sport … and that this use has been facilitated by sports scientists, high-performance coaches and sports staff.
  • In some cases, players are being administered with substances that have not yet been approved for human use.
  • The ACC also identified organised crime identities and groups that are involved in the distribution of PIEDs to athletes and professional sports staff.
  • The ACC report notes increasing evidence of personal relationships of concern between professional athletes and organised criminal identities and groups. This may have resulted in match fixing and the fraudulent manipulation of betting markets.
  • The Australian Crime Commission has found that professional sport in Australia is highly vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime.
  • Multiple athletes from a number of clubs in major Australian sporting codes are suspected of currently using or having previously used peptides, potentially constituting anti-doping rule violations. Officials from clubs have also been identified as administering, via injections and intravenous drips, a variety of substances.

My chosen career pathway has been in high performance sport. My dilemma has always been that I believe play, games and sport are essentially non-zero sum activities. We all flourish by playing with integrity and with an unequivocal commitment to fairness.

Throughout my thirty-five year career, I have met people who insist that sport is a zero sum activity and assert that a competitive edge will distance them from opponents. Unsurprisingly, the ACC Report concluded that:

some coaches, sports scientists and support staff of elite athletes have orchestrated and/or condoned the use of prohibited substances.

Some sports scientists have indicated a preparedness to administer substances to elite athletes which are untested or not yet approved for human use.

I think we are at that quote moment …

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history (Aldous Huxley).

Photo Credit

Frame Grab from Road to Paris

Following the London Paralympics

I am really enjoying the London Paralympics.

I like the atmosphere created by the ABC’s coverage of the Games. I am very impressed by the quality of the official Paralympic Games website.

The Conversation has a section dedicated to the Games.

Overnight I read Senator Kate Lundy’s blog post about Capturing Paralympic History. Senator Lundy is the Australian Federal Minister of Sport.

Kate linked to the Wikipedia information page about the History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia and the National Library of Australia’s Oral History Project.

One of the HOPAU Wikipedians, Greg Blood, is updating the following pages during the Games:

Laura Hale is working very hard as a Wikinews reporter at the Games. She has produced a large number of posts including Did You Know? insights. Her most recent post is an interview with Trischa Zorn, the most decorated Paralympian of all time (55 medals, 46 of them gold, earned between 1980 and 2004).

I am keen to read Stella Young’s views of the Games. Her first post concludes with her observation that “I’m here in London for a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to really immersing myself in London life while I bring you some news from the Paralympics. So far, it’s rather agreeing with me!”

I hope to read more of John Kessel’s posts too. This morning I received an alert to his Missing John Armuth post. I thought it was beautifully written and moving.

Photo Credit

Opening Ceremony (Laura Hale)

Women in Sport and Business Luncheon

The University of Canberra hosted a Women in Sport and Business Luncheon in the Ann Harding Centre today.

Stephen Parker and Heather Reid opened the luncheon. Grace Gill was the MC.

There were four speakers:

In her introduction to the speakers, Grace provided the luncheon guests with an insight into her season with Canberra United. She discussed how she combined work duties with her 80 training sessions, games and travel.

Each of the speakers shared their experiences of sport and business. Kate Lundy spoke about the place of sport in society, its contribution to the public good and its potential for social cohesion and inclusion. She noted the importance of the 2006 Senate Report About time! Women in sport and recreation in Australia.

Jane shared her experiences as a partner in the accountancy firm RSM Bird Cameron. She discussed the importance of toughness and confidence in business contexts. She offered some insights into her vocational path. Jane was very clear that she had experienced an equality of opportunity in a profession that celebrated differentness.

Heather discussed her experience in football in Canberra from founding club secretary at ANU (1978) to CEO of Canberra Football (2004) to WLeague Champion success (2011). Heather is now the longest serving CEO in Australian football. She spent part of her talk sharing insights into leadership programs in Canberra and the future for women in football.

Kate Pumpa was the final speaker of the day. She shared her experiences as an exercise scientist and dietician. She noted the range of opportunities she had found in elite sport and women’s health. She gave an example of her current interests including her work on lymphoedema.

This was the first business luncheon of this kind. The Ann Harding Centre was packed and the luncheon ended with some excellent questions from the floor to the panel of speakers.

I was delighted to be able to attend and welcomed the opportunity to celebrate Canberra United’s successful, record-breaking season.