Athlete Advisory Group gives voice to athletes

  • Media Statement

Sport Integrity Australia has today announced the appointment of 12 current and former elite athletes to its Athlete Advisory Group in a bid to strengthen the athletes’ voice in sport.

Athlete Advisory Group members
Athlete Advisory Group members

The group includes Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as representatives from professional sporting codes such as the AFL, NRL, Super Netball and the WNBL.

Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe said that to understand the integrity threats within sports, the agency needed to work in close partnership with everyone who held a piece to the puzzle – including athletes.

“I could not be happier with the calibre of athletes on our Athlete Advisory Group and the wide range of sports represented,” Sharpe said. “They are leaders within their sport and within their communities, and their contribution will be invaluable to the agency moving forward.”

The Athlete Advisory Group was established to bring the athlete voice to the table of Sport Integrity Australia’s operations. The group will inform Sport Integrity Australia’s strategic direction and help shape policies and strategies which impact athletes. 

In their most recent meeting, the group considered approaches to strengthen the agency’s education program and provided insight into the agency’s complaints handling process.

Sharpe said it was important to ensure that the athlete’s voice was heard and considered in every aspect of the agency.

“Everything we do at Sport Integrity Australia is athlete focused. Everything we do is about protecting athletes and protecting the integrity of their sport – whether that’s on the national or international stage or on a remote country ground or court. It’s critical athletes have input into that.”

The athletes themselves were motivated to contribute to the protection of sport, as well as ensuring they represented fellow athletes’ voices.

Four-time Olympian, water polo’s Bronwen Knox, said sport could be a confusing ecosystem with athletes often at the bottom of a power imbalance.

“I hope to assist by bringing the athlete's voice to the forefront of decision making and allowing space for athletes to be heard on the issues that matter,” Knox said.

“Athletes often feel they have no power to make a difference, no avenue to find protection, and no voice to speak out without reprisal. It is my hope that I can continue to help athletes find their voice and feel both protected and heard.”

Eric Mackenzie, who played 147 AFL games for the West Coast Eagles, said he’s looking forward to working with other members of the Athlete Advisory Group to safeguard the future of Australian sport for generations to come.

“This group has varying backgrounds, opinions and strengths from across the sports ecosystem but specifically when it comes to integrity matters,” Mackenzie said. “For us to open the conversation about the issues facing the current generation of Australian athletes will go a long way to assist the future generations.”

Athlete Advisory Group member Cassie Fien said being a part of the group helped her to feel involved in sport again following a nine-month anti-doping sanction for supplement use in 2018.

“Being a part of the group allows me to be a voice for athletes, as well as helping to shape education to help athletes not suffer the same fate I did,” she said.

The Athlete Advisory Group

Bronwen Knox

  • 4 x Olympian (water polo)
  • 2 x Olympic Bronze medallist
  • Sport Integrity Australia education presenter.

Ellie Cole

  • 4 x Paralympian
  • 6 x world record holder
  • Executive Member of the Australian Swimmers Association.

Eric Mackenzie

  • West Coast Eagles AFL player
  • AFL Players Association players’ delegate
  • International Testing Agency athlete ambassador.

Jonathan Goerlach

  • Paralympic triathlete
  • 5 x Australian National Paratriathlon Champion
  • Member of World Triathlon Athlete Committee.

Katrina Fanning

  • Most capped female rugby league player in the world when she retired. 
  • Board Member - Canberra Raiders & Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council.

Bronwen Downie

  • Olympic rower
  • 2 x World Rowing Championship Gold medallist
  • Former NSW State board member.

Blake Gaudry

  • 2 x Olympic trampolinist
  • 11 x Australian National Champion
  • Athletes’ representative.

Damon Kelly

  • 2 x Olympian
  • 2 x National Champion
  • Former Australian Weightlifting Federation board director.

Cassie Fien

  • Marathon runner
  • Won 2016 Oceania Half Marathon Championships
  • Sanctioned athlete

Tom Symonds

  • Rugby league player
  • Players Operations Manager at Rugby League Players Association.

Jenna O’Hea

  • Australian Opals Captain
  • Lifeline Mental Health Ambassador

Sam Poolman

  • Retired professional netball player
  • Board Member Australia Netball Players Association.

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