Regions unite for clean sport
A Regional Athletes Forum has kicked off the activities ahead of the Global Education Conference in Sydney this week.
The meeting was attended by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Athletes’ Committee chairman Ben Sandford, New Zealand Athlete Committee members Shea McAleese and Tracey Lambrechs and Sport Integrity Australia Athlete Advisory Group members Bronwen Downie, Bronwen Knox, Tom Symonds, Cassie Fien, Blake Gaudry and Ellie Cole.
Sandford, who is also a member of the NZ athlete group, said his desire was to lead WADA towards an organisation that was “athlete-centred”.
“WADA has an enormous impact on athletes, whether you have a career, whether you win a medal,” Sandford said. “The impacts are enormous, you need athletes to be a part of it.
“No decisions should be made for athletes without athletes. It’s getting better, but it’s still a journey.”
Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe said he was very much aware that without athletes there is no sport and that athletes must be a part of the decision making.
“We’re here for athletes, to protect the athletes,” Sharpe said. “When we started there was no other model like us. We may make mistakes, and we have, but we will listen and learn. And we may not have all the answers, but we won’t stop until we find someone that does. No one is going to leave this organisation without an answer.”
Drug Free Sport New Zealand CEO Nick Paterson agreed.
“Every decision we make affects athletes, who are we to make these decisions without asking athletes? Athletes should be engaged from the very start – we will be better as a result.”
He implored the athletes to “hold us to account”.
“If we were going to talk about integrity you have to follow through, you have to empower athletes and listen to them.”
Sandford said that he hoped today’s meeting would be the first of many so “collectively we can raise the bar”.