ASADA is out of control. Let me repeat that: ASADA is out of control.
In the Jessica Peris case it has shown a complete disdain for her rights and for the ASADA Act.
The ASADA Act, drafted and enacted by the Australian parliament, explicitly provides that information from an investigation must not be published in the media until or unless the athlete has been found to have breached anti-doping rules. Jessica Peris is still under investigation. She has not been found guilty of anything.
But what do we find? ASADA or Athletics Australia leaked to the media that a drug test conducted by ASADA indicates Jessica Peris may have taken banned substances. That of course is a serious matter. Under the ASADA Act and regulations what that means, however, is there are further steps to be taken before she is charged. Until the investigation is complete it is meant to remain confidential.
Section 67 of the Act provides for anyone leaking confidential information to be jailed for two years. Section 68B allows ASADA to enforce strict confidentiality provisions on any third party it shares information with. In Jessica Peris’ case that’s Athletics Australia. Clearly ASADA has breached section 67 and or 68B of the ASADA Act. In doing so ASADA has denied Jessica Peris the protection the Australian parliament intended to give all athletes falling into ASADA’s clutches.
ASADA, by leaking the result of Jessica Peris’ drug test, has denied her a fair trial which, according to the ASADA Act, she is entitled to away from the glare of publicity. How can she, or any other athlete, trust ASADA to give them a fair go when it shows such blatant disregard for its own Act?
Jessica Peris called ASADA out and expressed her dismay that her privacy, to which she was entitled under the ASADA Act, had been taken away. But like all bullies, and backed by a tax payer funded bureaucracy, ASADA went for the jugular. In a media release of 22 February 2018 ASADA let the world know that Jessica’s Peris urine sample tested positive for three banned substances. By doing so ASADA has breached section 67 of its own Act.
ASADA defence, no doubt, will be the ‘get out of jail card’ provided by section 68E of the ASADA Act:
The CEO may disclose protected information if:
- information relates to an athlete or support person; and
- public comments have been attributed to:
- the athlete or support person; or
- a representative of the athlete or support person; and
- the disclosure is for the purpose of the ASADA responding to the comments.
This is ASADA being too clever by half. Or to put it bluntly ASADA’s arrogance demonstrates it believes itself above the law.
The critical issue is the leak by ASADA and not Jessica Peris’ response. ASADA should never have allowed the information about her urine test to be made public. And when the test was made public, ASADA should have apologised immediately. Instead it doubled down. Using, Jessica Perris’ legitimate response to the abuse of her privacy as a justification, it compounded the original breach by releasing further information to damage her reputation. This is not only contrary to the intention of the ASADA Act, but is a disgrace. Athletes are human beings not ASADA’s playthings.
ASADA can’t hide behind section 68E of its Act when it has breached sections 67 and or 68B. The breach of one or both of those sections needs to be investigated, simply because that breach or those breaches occurred before Jessica Peris went public. Indeed, because one or both of those sections were breached is the very reason she went public.
What hope is there then for Jessica Peris to have her case handled fairly when ASADA has demonstrated a complete disregard for its own Act?
Surely it’s time for the new sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie, to step in and ask ASADA for a full explanation. Calling in the Australian Federal Police to track down the leaker would be a good idea too. After all, what’s the point of having a two year prison sentence for leakers if it’s not enforced. If ASADA gets away with this again, how can any athlete in the future have any trust in the system?