Sport on notice

In this episode of podcast On Side, esteemed lawyers Richard Young and Adair Donaldson provide incredible insights into their roles, including on anti-doping and abuse cases in sport.

Sport on notice with Richard Young and Adair Donaldson

We speak with legal experts Richard Young and Adair Donaldson. Richard Young is a leader in anti-doping litigation and has worked on cases against Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Marion Jones, the BALCO doping scandal and the Essendon supplements case. Adair Donaldson specialises in assisting survivors of trauma.



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    “Welcome to On Side, the official podcast of Sport Integrity Australia. Our mission is to protect the integrity of sport and the health and welfare of those who participate in Australian sport”.

    Tim Gavel: Hello and welcome to On Side, the official podcast for Sport Integrity Australia. I'm Tim Gavel. Our podcast provides listeners with an opportunity to learn about integrity issues through athletes, coaches and administrators talking about contemporary and historical moments. On this episode, we'll be joined by two leading sports lawyers, Richard Young and Adair Donaldson. 

    Sport Integrity Australia's 2023 Annual Update is out later this month. The course is for athletes, support personnel and other members of the Australian sporting community to highlight changes to the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list, as well as providing other integrity information that is vital to know in 2023. 

    In other news, Sport Integrity Australia will be sending a team member to Interpol on a secondment to share knowledge and help with the development of a united approach to getting ahead of the global match fixing threat. 

    And we'd like to congratulate our Sports Engagement Team members Richard Nicholson and Petria Thomas who were honoured by the University of Canberra for their contribution to the sports industry. 

    And congratulations to Dr Kira James, who was announced as the inaugural winner of the Ken Fitch Fellowship award earlier this month.



    Tim Gavel: US lawyer Richard Young is a leader in anti-doping litigation. He was the lead drafter of the original World Anti-Doping Code and subsequent code amendments. 

    And he's worked on doping cases against Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, Marion Jones and the BALCO doping scandal, he's worked on the Essendon supplement case, he served on the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Richard has also been involved in drafting and enforcing safe sport rules for sporting organisations. 

    Richard, welcome to On Side. You've done many cases; you've been really working in this space for a long time now. Firstly, can you tell us about your career in anti-doping and what led you down this path?  

    Richard Young: So my background as a lawyer was as a commercial litigator, had some opportunities 30 some years ago to represent national sport organisations, one of my early opportunities was in the Quigley case where an American shooter named George Quigley had won a World Cup and then tested positive and had his medal taken away and it took a shooting spot away from the US Olympic Committee so they sent me over to CAS to appeal that, and it was one of the early CAS cases and back then the shooting rules said doping was the intentional use of a prohibited substance with the aim of enhancing performance. 

    And this is clearly a case where he was sick as a dog and the doctor gave him a medicine called Bronchophan with the label in Arabic, and looked at the list and told him there was nothing prohibited so it wasn't a doping violation. 

    I mean, we've since gone to strict liability, but it wasn't then and so he got his medal back and US got it's shooting spot back and this was a high-profile case and CAS said "You seem to understand this, would you like to be one of our arbitrators?", and so I was a CAS arbitrator for a while and ended up being on the ad hoc panels for Nagano and Sydney. 

    And then, I did more and more and more cases either as an arbitrator or as an advocate, decided I really shouldn't be both and so I decided to be an advocate and resign from CAS, and I did more and more cases and wrote rules for international federations and the like. And then, when it came time to write the World Anti-Doping Code, they asked if I'd lead that effort. 

    So, I was a commercial litigator, but is it more fun to be a commercial litigator or is it more fun to be involved in sport in an area like anti-doping when I'm passionate about clean sport? It got to be a pretty easy decision so I had a chance to do what I really liked, I'm with a great big law firm and most of my partners have to read the financial section of the paper first thing every morning, my job is to open up the sports page, you can't get much better than that. 

    Tim Gavel: You've worked in some really big cases. Lance Armstrong, Sun Yang, Alberto Salazar, BALCO. What has been the most interesting of those cases do you think? Obviously, the Lance Armstrong was the highest profile.

    Richard Young: Yeah, well you can throw in Essendon as well [LAUGHTER].  

    Tim Gavel: Yes, I was going to ask you about the Australian element in a moment.  

    Richard Young: And the Russian investigation, they've all been really interesting. None of them were sure win cases, and so, cases like an Armstrong case is a little like extreme skiing, if you fall, you die, and so the agency was seriously at risk. I probably wouldn't pick a favourite, they've all been really interesting, I mean the -

    Tim Gavel: Which on did you lose sleep over, do you think?

    Richard Young: All of them [LAUGHTER]. It's funny as I've gotten older, I know more how much I don't know, and so I actually do lose sleep. I was a competitive tennis player in college and there are the matches that you know you're going to win, I don't have any physical symptoms, there are the matches where you know you're going to lose, they don't have any physical symptoms, it's the matches where you should win but you could lose that I get the dry cough and have a hard time sleeping, it's the same thing with some of these big cases and it doesn't really bother me that I get that way, it's just that's what adrenaline does to my body. And I've learned from being an athlete that 'don't sweat it', you know 'you'll be fine. You were fine as an athlete, and you'll be fine trying these cases'.  

    Tim Gavel: Did you get much pushback from your role in these cases?  

    Richard Young: Well, probably the, if we would have, yeah. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. I'm not -  

    Tim Gavel: Because I'd imagine -  

    Richard Young: I'm not real welcome in China because of Sun Yang. 

    Tim Gavel: I was getting to that, yes.  

    Richard: I'm not going back to Russia because of the role in the Russian investigation. After the Essendon case I sure got a lot of letters from Melbourne about how the result in that case had ruined somebody's father's life.  

    Tim Gavel: Tell us about your role in the Essendon case, and what it meant to you to see it through.  

    Richard Young: Well, it was interesting. I'd done work for ASDA and ASADA on different investigations and different things before, and it was, Mr Dank and his third thymosin beta 4, and it involved Cronulla, and it involved Essendon, so I worked a lot with ASADA on both of those and then we ended up representing WADA in the appeal in the Essendon case and it was not a slam dunk case. 

    We thought it was a righteous case and good and WADA thought it was a righteous case and good, and good lawyers on the other side and the sport was very concerned about the consequence to the sport and our view was ‘look under the code, this is what needs to happen.’

    Tim Gavel: Much is said about the fact that none of the players tested positive in a similar way I guess to Lance Armstrong in that for years he was tested yet never tested positive, and I guess that is a recurring theme in a lot of social media when it comes to Essendon, but there are many other anti-doping rule violations.  

    Richard Young: Yeah.  

    Tim Gavel: As opposed to, simply testing positive.  

    Richard Young: Right. Right? And Lance said, "I was tested 300 times and I never tested positive". The same is true with Marion Jones. Same is true in a lot of our big cases, and that just means that they were very good at either being tipped off that the collectors were coming or in being very careful when and how they dope that it wouldn't be detected. 

    I mean, for a long time we couldn't detect, in fact, it wasn't until I think the Sydney Games that we started testing for EPO, and that was the drug of choice in the cycling community. So yeah, he was tested 300 times, but he wasn't tested for EPO effectively, so that's not real good excuse. Now our best, our most significant cases are all non-analytical investigation cases.  

    Tim Gavel: Does it surprise you that the Essendon issue continues to bubble along?  

    Richard Young: A little bit. I mean books have been written about it, it was in the press pretty constantly, it was a big deal. Essendon Club was a major club, it'd be like the Dallas Cowboys in American football and all, but a couple of their players got suspended and it screwed up the competitive equity in the league and all that kind of stuff, but to us we had to deal with it as, were the rules violated, or weren't they?  

    Tim Gavel: Moving away from anti-doping onto abuse because you also work in the abuse of athletes in sport, and you've done a number of high-profile cases in that area as well.  

    Richard Young: Yeah, and a lot of low-profile cases too.  

    Tim Gavel: What range do you go through? What sports? Is it every sport?  

    Richard Young: So, there's an interesting dynamic. There is sex abuse, or bullying or emotional abuse in every sport because there is all of those things in society, and I would guess, that the prevalence of sex abuse in Australia is about the same as the United States. 

    We have the same cultural background; we wouldn't tolerate that as a society and yet it still occurs. Center for Disease Control in the US has said that something like one in six women and one in ten men will be sexually abused by the time they're 18, usually in the home or uncle or other people like that or in school or in church or in club, but it happens in sport too, and so like it or not, that's a part of sport and we have to take it really seriously. 

    And what I have observed is that one of the biggest problems is that people don't report, and they don't report because they don't think anybody's going to do anything about it, or they think they're going to be re-victimised in the process, or you have to go through this formal process of reporting. And so, it's only if you are an eyewitness to the act that you report as opposed to, 'I think there's something fishy going on, would you guys please look at it?' 

    So, all of that, I think is the biggest problem and what you find out to answer your question is, the better job a sport does at convincing people to come forward the more cases they're going to have. So, if you look at a sport that has a lot of cases, they're probably doing a pretty good job causing people to come forward. In my experience in swimming, I don't know how many minor athletes they have, but I guess close to 200,000 minor women, well statistically there's going to be abuse in society in that level, and the minute we started really going after coaches and abusers hard, more people came forward. So, there were lots of cases.  

    Tim Gavel: Is it mainly coaches?  

    Richard Young: Yes. Sometimes it's other athletes, occasionally it's an athlete support person. The worst case in the United States is Larry Nassar, the doctor in gymnastics, I'd never seen a doctor case out of hundreds, he was the first one. Didn't mean that they, like other athlete's support personnel couldn't do it but I was pretty shocked to see that it was a doctor as opposed to a coach or somebody else.  

    Tim Gavel: Has the reporting system improved do you think?

    Richard Young: Yeah! Yeah.  

    Tim Gavel: Because a number of athletes had come forward before Larry Nasser was prosecuted many years beforehand.  

    Richard Young: Yeah. The problem with the Nassar case was that he's licensed as a chiropractor and other things like that, and if you go to the manual there is something called pelvic floor manipulation that you use, it's actually a real treatment and that's what would happen. I mean the Michigan State Police were notified that 'this had happened to my daughter', and they come, and he shows in the book where this is a legitimate treatment, and they say 'OK'. I mean that was, it's really unique that way it's different than -

    Tim Gavel: Because your daughter was a gymnast, wasn't she?  

    Richard Young: Yeah. I mean she wasn't abused, but no, she was on the national team during, well Larry Nasser was the doc.  

    Tim Gavel: When you look at abuse and you say abuse, most people think of sexual abuse, but there are other forms of abuse, aren't there? And that's where it becomes quite a gray area. Is it a coach trying to get the best out of an athlete? Is it direct abuse? Is it hard to prosecute?

    Richard Young: Yes. Yes [LAUGHTER], yes in a nutshell and that will be one of the issues for Sport Integrity Australia- Is emotional abuse? Is it motivational coaching? Is it what good coaches do? Or is it emotional abuse? And there are egregious examples like coaches beating their athletes, physical abuse, but the emotional abuse gets tough. 

    But you've got to deal with the cases and bring them if you want kids to be safe in sport or you want any athlete to be safe in sport. It shouldn't be a world where in order to achieve your athletic goals, you have to put up with emotional abuse. Just like if you want kids to love sport and succeed in sport, you shouldn't feel like you go to dope in order to have a chance to succeed.  

    Tim Gavel: When athletes do bring abuse cases forward, sometimes there is an element of disappointment that it doesn't go any further. How do you deal with that in that, athletes feel let down by the system, yet it's pretty obvious in your mind that it can't proceed legally?

    Richard Young: It's a great question and what happens is, you want the athlete to feel like they have really been heard. One of the things that I'll be talking to people about while I'm down here is having an athlete advocate that they can reach out to because your investigator is supposed to be neutral. When I have sexual misconduct cases involving a woman, I always have a woman on my staff doing the contact with her just so that there is, she perceives an empathy, but having an advocate for them is important. 

    Making sure that the victim is kept apprised of the progress of the case so that they don't feel like it's been dropped or abandoned. And we've had cases where the panel found no abuse, and the victim came to us and said 'thank you, thank you. I'm not happy with that judgment but thank you. Thank you so much for bringing this case and letting me have my day in court.' And that's what you want.  

    Tim Gavel: Sport Integrity Australia, of course has evolved from an anti-doping organisation to incorporate broader integrity issues, safeguarding in sport, sports wagering etcetera. How hard is it, do you think to bring them all together like this?  

    Richard Young: Well, it's hard, and it takes resources and dealing with abuse cases is frankly a lot harder than dealing with doping cases because you don't have the code where we've tried to make things pretty black and white. But if you are concerned as a lot of people are rightly that you don't want the fox guarding the hen house, you don't want the sport organisation guarding the hen house of anti-doping, or you don't want them guarding the hen house of athlete protection and if I'm talking to my clients who are sporting organisations you don't want to be in that position. 

    You really would like to have somebody else independent so if you lose a case, it isn't because you punted it, it's because it wasn't the right case. If you don't bring a case, it wasn't because you were covering up for some world class coach, it was because there wasn't a case. And they're not going to believe that if you're the sport, but people will believe it if it's independent, and so it just gets you out of that lose/lose box, if you're a sporting organisation.  

    Tim Gavel: From your perspective, having dealt with so many abuse cases in the United States, do you feel as though, given that we've had a bit of a rise in the number of people coming forward in Australia alleging abuse, is this the tip of the iceberg do you think in Australian sport?  

    Richard Young: It will be for a while, yeah. I mean, I don't know all the Australian cases, I know I've read the statements from Maddy Groves. Didn't come forward because she didn't think anybody would do anything about it. My guess is that when it's clear that Sport Integrity Australia is going to do something about it, then more people will come forward. If coming forward is going to mean you're just going to beat your head against the wall and retraumatise yourself, why would you do it? 

    That's the big problem, frankly, that people don't come forward. You want to create an atmosphere where it is conducive to their coming forward and they believe it will make a difference. And so, when you do that, yeah, you're going to have that bulge in the boa constrictor's belly of cases. ‘I now know it will make a difference if I come forward, so I will.’

    Tim Gavel: And that's what happened in the US, didn't it? When people started coming out, there was a rise in the number of people emerging and seeking justice.  

    Richard Young: And now it isn't the at the same high level that it was, and it depends on, how you write your rules and what happens and who has authority to do what for old cases. I mean the ones that are troublesome are, say a coach who's been a predator at multiple clubs in the past, but he hasn't done anything under the new legislation, somebody's got to deal with that guy, and how that fits in with Sport Integrity Australia or whether that's thrown back to the sport again I don't know, but if you want to have credibility then somebody's going to have to deal with that old situation.  

    Tim Gavel: Yes, historical issues are a huge issue, but I guess the framework has been set in place. The National Integrity Framework provides sports with an avenue going forward, a framework going forward, a set of guidelines which is important to stop it happening in the future.  

    Richard Young: Clearly. Clearly. And whether Sport integrity Australia gets involved in investigating old cases in agreement with the sport, I mean that's going to be David's call on resources. But what you need to do is to create confidence in the victims of the world that somebody's going to do something about this if I come forward.  

    Tim Gavel: Good on you Richard, thanks very much for coming and speaking to the people here at Sport Integrity Australia. Very committed to ensuring that the integrity of sport is protected and that athletes are protected as well. Thank you very much for coming down.  

    Richard Young: You bet. My pleasure and I'm really impressed with the dedication and commitment of the people you've got working here.



    Tim Gavel: Hello and welcome back to On Side. We've been joined by Adair Donaldson. Adair is the director at the Australian law firm Donaldson Law. He specializes in assisting survivors of trauma. He works closely with sporting bodies, addressing cultural issues with respect to harassment, abuse, violence and alcohol related issues.

    Well Adair, being in the inner circle so to speak, hearing stories from athletes and sports firsthand, how do you see sport as being a positive driver in bringing about cultural change?

    Adair Donaldson: So Tim, first of all my background, I'm a lawyer based in regional Queensland and I suppose what I was seeing at the coal front was, the coal face, was that you were seeing these young people that are making really poor decisions in relation to alcohol, drugs, sex, fights, motor vehicles, those sorts of things, and that's what we're facing, we're facing these issues as a society. 

    And an opportunity presented itself back in 2007-2008 where we developed an educational resource to really challenge audiences to address these issues and that was when the NRL came knocking, and since 2008 I've been working with the NRL and assisting them to develop their educational resources, and what I can say is that the great thing about sport is that it disarms audiences. 

    So what I mean by that is that when an incident occurs, and sometimes there's really poor incidents that occur, that may make the front page of the newspaper but it means that we're starting to have that conversation in relation to these issues and people may want to talk about it, OK, as a sporting issue, but then if we start breaking it down we start having a wider conversation about what the impact is having it in the community and for me, that's really important. I look at the NRL and I may be biased here, but I certainly work with a lot of sports, I certainly work with a lot of schools and universities as well and a lot of employers, and what I can say is that the NRL is second to none when it comes to addressing these social issues, and they have to be. 

    Let's not kid ourselves, because if one of these issues occur, then they know that they're going to be under a great deal of scrutiny. 

    But so, you'd like to think that they're doing it for altruistic reasons to bring about change, but they're also doing it for efficiency reasons as well, because they know if they haven't got this under control that they are going to lose fans and they're going to lose sponsors, etcetera, it's going to have financial impact on them if they don't get it right. 

    But certainly, what I've seen over the years, so if we go back to 2008, I think back in 2008 very few people were talking about consent back in 2008, so the NRL has led the way with respect to developing resources of our consent training and those types of matters, and then that has then permeated into the wider community as well.  

    Tim Gavel: Yeah. I'd imagine too as a lawyer it's a very interesting time for you because there are different interpretations on abuse and legally, how does it stand up? Because we obviously see coaches on the sideline yelling out to their athletes, does that constitute abuse?

    Adair Donaldson: Yes, yes Tim.

    Tim Gavel: So as a lawyer, I would imagine that it's a very, very fine line for you, but very interesting at the same time.

    Adair Donaldson: Oh very, very much so and the law has been evolving in that space with respect to abuse, but if I just come back and talk about the law evolving in other areas as well. 

    So, the law has changed for instance, with respect to, we've seen the law develop with respect to mobile phones and social media, we've seen the law develop with respect or change with respect to laws regarding consent, and so as those laws have changed, what the NRL has had to do to educate their athletes is to make sure that they're aware of those consequences. 

    The other issue that I suppose is a big issue for athletes and that is with respect to codes of conduct, and we've seen the former Australian cricket captain fall on his sword as a result of breaching a code of conduct there. A lot of people don't appreciate that in nearly every contract in the land, every employee in the land is bound by a code of conduct these days and it talks about that you will not bring your employer into disrepute, not only during work hours but outside of work hours as well. 

    So that's a pretty big issue, and again, the only time that we start talking about those issues is when we see a sports person that gets, falls foul of it.

    Tim Gavel: Yes. Do you find that, for instance, Athlete A was a driver for people coming out, and as we see more and more abuse cases and more and more cases of athletes transgressing and coaches transgressing, do you find that there is greater awareness and people feel as though they've got a greater voice to come to people like you?

    Adair Donaldson: Oh Tim, it is one of the greatest privileges that we've had, is that we've been able to look after those incredible women that came forward in the wake of Athlete A and called out the behaviours that had occurred in the past. 

    Now it took such courage for them to come forward and if I look back on those group of gymnasts, and gymnastics in particular, is the wonderful thing that they had was this solidarity amongst them all. There wasn't just one person coming out and saying 'hey, this is what's happened', and then leaving that person out there to be carrying the weight themselves, this was this group of incredible women that came forward and said, 'What happened to us as children should never, ever have happened and it needs to be changed.' 

    Now in the wake of them coming forward we've seen what happened, we've seen the steps that Sport Integrity Australia has taken, we've seen the redress scheme that has been put in place by the Australian Government. 

    So, the power of those women and them coming forward and sharing their trauma has made such a big difference for others, and I can say that those women are the most incredible and impressive women. What they survived, and what they were put through as children, it should never have occurred and you would like to think that there's other sports that are looking at what happened in gymnastics and they're saying 'but for the grace of God, we weren't out there but we should learn from that experience and we should make sure that we're implementing all those recommendations that came out of the difference inquiries into our own sport'. 

    That would be a really big start because we can learn so much as a result of the gymnastics experience.

    Tim Gavel: How did the athletes end up coming to you? How did these gymnasts know to go to Adair Donaldson?

    Adair Donaldson: [CHUCKLES] Tim, I suppose that over the years I've developed a reputation in that area of standing up for athletes’ rights and as a result of that they reached out to me.

    Tim Gavel: Because it is a trust thing, isn't it?

    Adair Donaldson: It is a trust thing, and that's, so what we do is we look after people that have survived trauma in institutions and generally speaking it takes a long time for a person to come forward to share that trauma and when they do come forward, well that's a big effort, that's a big step for them to take and you're right, it involves developing trust there and I suppose what it makes is, from my perspective, it makes it very easy to do your job when you're looking after such incredible people that are strong, courageous, stoic individuals.

    Tim Gavel: Are they looking for somebody to speak to or are they looking for redress, as you've mentioned, are they looking to punish?

    Adair Donaldson: No, no.

    Tim Gavel: What are they looking for?

    Adair Donaldson: So, one of the things that, a lot of people say that when people that have survived abuse come forward it's all about money, well, that's not what it is in my experience. 

    Invariably, when a survivor comes forward that has survived abuse in an institution, they're looking for four A's, and the four A's are the first ‘acknowledgement’- an acknowledgement of what happened. Secondly, an ‘apology’. Thirdly, an ‘assurance’- by them coming forward and sharing their trauma that it’s going to make a difference for others and then finally ‘assistance’. 

    So, you'll appreciate that when we talk about those young athletes that came forward, children and some of them we're talking 6, 7, 8 years of age when it started, that they've got debilitating injuries as a result of what they experienced. They're receiving no support at the moment, there's no support out there for them, so it's pretty important to make sure that there is going to be some assistance that's provided to them. 

    And the government has done that recently with establishing the redress scheme that's available for people that went through the Australian Institute of Sport. So that's important, that was a very positive step that was taken by the Australian Government, but I'd like to see that rolled out to a far wider group.

    Tim Gavel: Given your experience, is it the tip of the iceberg or do you expect a lot more to be on its way?

    Adair Donaldson: I think that we're talking about these issues, and I think that more people feel comfortable coming forward now and sharing their understanding or their experience of what happened. I think that episode that happened with gymnastics, what made that unique was that there was a large cohort of these women that had solidarity with each other, each one of them had each other's back. 

    That's what made it so incredible. They all came forward, it wasn't just one out, it was a group of former gymnasts that came forward that said 'hey, this is what happened, it wasn't good enough, there has to be change.' 

    So it was that solidarity, I think that that's quite unique. We've seen other sports, for instance, in relation to swimming, it seems that with swimming that they've done a recent investigation there, and I think that to their credit they came out and they have acknowledged that they have had issues in the past, but what we saw with swimming wasn't that group of athletes coming forward banding together to tell their stories.

    Tim Gavel: The National Integrity Framework, do you see that as an important piece of work going forward in that at least sports now have an understanding of a framework and guidelines about their responsibilities?

    Adair Donaldson: Very much so, very much so. And that's, again, is a very positive step to take and that has been largely led by David, who obviously has got an incredible support team behind him, but David Sharpe had led that, and I think that it's incredibly important for sports. 

    It gives sports a lot of comfort I suppose from a point of view that they know that there's an independent body that's going to be reviewing it, that the complaints can go to, that going to be an independent investigation that's then going to be held, so that's really, that is very important. 

    And if we use other examples of how that has had success in other areas, I know for instance with the Australian Defence Force, when they had allegations with respect to abuse and integrity and those sorts of things that they set up an independent body that people could then make their complaints to. 

    So, I actually think that that is a really positive thing because from the sports body, from the sporting organisation, it's got some comfort in knowing that there's going to be an independent body that's going to be reviewing us, that's going to be holding us to account. That's quite important.

    Tim Gavel: Not everybody who feels as though they have been abused is going to get comfort from it though, let's be frank.

    Adair Donaldson: No, no, they're not, they're not.

    Tim Gavel: And they might feel as though not enough action is taken, and so not everybody is going to be satisfied.

    Adair Donaldson: And that's going to be the case no matter what. There is going to be a significant number of people that won't be happy with that process, but it's the best we've got, and it's a far lot better than what we've had in the past. So that to me is a really good step in the right direction.

    Tim Gavel: What do you see as the future? Are we going to see less abuse cases? Are we going to see more and more people come out and talk about historical abuse? Where do you see the future going?

    Adair Donaldson: Well, first of all I think statistics will show that more people will come forward and report in relation to historical incidences. The reason for that is they're going to have the courage to come forward listening to other people, and they'll say 'OK', they now feel comfortable coming forward and sharing their trauma to make a difference but that means that the system is working. 

    That means that people feel comfortable, and safe in coming forward in reporting and knowing that it's going to be handled correctly. So that's a good thing, so I would expect that there should be a spike, but gradually that will then tailer off. If you have a look for instance, I know that what happened over in the States with the, in relation to the US armed forces, they introduced a new body in relation to dealing with claims in relation to abuse and inappropriate behavior, and they introduced it and then the statistics showed that the incidents had been reported had trebled, and they said 'Listen, it mustn't be working, because look, it's just risen. It hasn't become better it's got worse', and their response there was 'No, it's actually got better because from the point of view that people now feel comfortable coming along and reporting.' 

    So, I would like to think that there will be, I don't think anybody should be surprised if we do see a spike in people reporting abuse that has occurred, historical abuse that has occurred and what that will show is that people feel comfortable coming forward and sharing their trauma.

    Tim Gavel: How should historical abuse be dealt with then? We've had obviously Human Rights Commission have a look at a number of issues, but I just wonder how can historical issues be dealt with from a sporting perspective.

    Adair Donaldson: Well, obviously there's a national redress scheme which is able to handle it.

    Tim Gavel: But if it's not sexual abuse.

    Adair Donaldson: Yes.

    Tim Gavel: …how can it be dealt with?

    Adair Donaldson: Well which part are you looking at then? So, from the point of view -

    Tim Gavel: OK, so a coach is sort of forcing athletes to train and they're suffering lifelong injuries, or they've got eating disorders, etc.

    Adair Donaldson: Yes.

    Tim Gavel: So how do you rectify historical abuse?

    Adair Donaldson: Well, it depends what the athlete, what the claimant here is seeking. So, a lot of claimants may well be seeking that they're after an acknowledgement and apology for what has occurred in the past, and an assurance that systems have then changed. Now that's maybe what they're seeking and what will happen is if they were a minor at that point in time, they've still obviously got all their rights to then pursue their entitlements. 

    Now what you're saying there is 'What happens if it's not sexual abuse?', in some of the states obviously, the legislation says that in relation to physical abuse that they may have suffered, OK, is still able to be pursued against the organisation.

    Tim Gavel: From a police perspective, or?

    Adair Donaldson: No, no, not from a police perspective from a civil perspective. Obviously, people have still got their rights in relation to their criminal claims that they make, and they'll always have those, but I would like to think that people that have survived abuse, physical abuse within sporting organisations have got significant options open for them to pursue rights now.

    Tim Gavel: Where did athletes come to before you came on the scene or before people like you came on the scene? Did they just keep quiet?

    Adair Donaldson: Oh, they kept quiet, they kept quiet. Tim, you're aware that over the last three or four years there's been some very high profile matters that have come forward or that have been going through the courts in relation to allegations of serious abuse that has occurred, and they have resulted in criminal charges, and I suspect the reason why people are coming forward now is that they feel confident that they will be listened to. Isn't that good? Because in the past these people have just suffered in silence.

    Tim Gavel: Have you been surprised by the size of the issue when you first got that call from say a gymnast or a swimmer?

    Adair Donaldson: No, I suppose it doesn't surprise me because after being in this field for so long, you know that where there's children, unfortunately there has been abuse.

    Tim Gavel: Yeah, but it seems as though it's everywhere at the moment, doesn't it? Pick up the paper and there seems to be an abuse case almost on a daily basis before the courts where previously there hadn't been as much and it was almost like a hidden problem I guess, and I just wonder did you think possibly they're not going to come out and speak about it?

    Adair Donaldson: I suppose for the last 25 years I've been working in the space of assisting people that have survived abuse, so after 25 years you've probably developed an approach where you think 'OK, well, there is going to be some bad people out there and that they will have done bad things', and to me, I come back to the fact that if we can be assisting in caring for people now and to be assisting them to get through the trauma and that they feel as if they've been heard and they're getting an assurance that by them sharing their trauma that's going to make a difference for others well, isn't that an incredible thing?

    That these people can come forward and something that they walk away thinking 'well, as a result of my sharing my trauma I have made a difference for others'.

    Tim Gavel: Well, it's good that they feel as though they've got somewhere to go to now, whether it be you or Sport Integrity Australia or wherever they know they're going to be listened to.

    Adair Donaldson: Yeah, and that's very positive.

    Tim Gavel: Adair, keep up the good work.

    Adair Donaldson: Oh, thank you so much Tim. Thank you, thanks for showing interest too Tim.



    Podcast transition: And now for our segment ‘From Left Field’, where we answer a question from the public.

    Riley McGown: G'day I'm Riley, Athlete Educator with Sport Integrity Australia. Today's From Left Field question is 'Who's responsible for keeping kids safe in sport?' 

    It's everyone's responsibility to keep kids safe. As a person involved in sport, you play a crucial role in keeping our kids safe. If you've experienced or witnessed poor behaviour in sport, you can make a complaint to Sport Integrity Australia via our website.  



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