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National body given end of year deadline
The Australian Government has released its official response to the report authored by former New South Wales Supreme Court chief judge James Wood, issuing an ultimatum to Cycling Australia.
As part of 17 "wide-ranging recommendations" Wood concluded that the national body should introduce a doping declaration policy, and establish an anti-doping Integrity Unit for the sport following the explosive United States Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into Lance Armstrong and his associates. The release of USADA's 'Reasoned Decision' documentation, claimed the scalp of Australian Matt White, and his role with Cycling Australia as men's professional road co-ordinator. He was also later dismissed by Orica GreenEdge. The process of White's sacking led to retired rider Stephen Hodge, resigning from the position as Cycling Australia's vice president who then confessed to using EPO, cortisone and other substances from 1989 until his retirement in 1996 - something he deemed necessary in order to be able to compete at the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. So far, no other Australian rider has come forward publically, with Hodge and White becomming public scapegoats in the wider community.
Minister for Sport Kate Lundy issued a statement saying that it was expected that Cycling Australia take up the recommendations by the end of 2013, or "ongoing funding from the Australian Government will be reviewed." The Australian Sports Commission, Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the National Integrity in Sport Unit will be assisting Cycling Australia to put in place the necessary reforms. In 2012, Cycling Australia received $7.3 million in Federal funding.
"The Government supports all the recommendations in Mr Wood's Report and expects Cycling Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), to implement these reforms before the end of the year," said Senator Lundy.
"Implementing the full suite of recommendations will go some way towards restoring public confidence in Cycling Australia and ensure cycling is governed with the highest integrity.
"The Review maps out a route to safeguard the future direction of cycling in Australia and outlines the practices Cycling Australia must put in place to ensure it is able to deliver improved anti-doping policies and systems.
"The recommendations from the Review provide a clear path for governance reforms and will drive positive change at Cycling Australia."
Among the recommendations was that the Government introduce legislation whereby athletes would be compelled to assist ASADA in their investigations.
"The Australian Government will introduce a Bill which will improve ASADA’s capacity to undertake investigations while maintaining the underlying principle of Australia’s anti-doping arrangements that it is the responsibility of the sport to sanction the athlete," reads the response.
The full 12-page response can be viewed here.
Meantime, ASADA's report into anti-doping violations within the sport in Australia is due to be released shortly. The investigation began in October following the confessions of Hodge and White.