Australia is to establish a new sweeping anti-corruption regime which will be overseen by a national watchdog which will tackle both cheating and match-fixing in the Australian sports sector. The federal government will announce the new regime soon, hoping to solve the issues related to the growing risks of sports integrity in the nation. These risks can be attributed to the increasing reach of both online and unregulated betting markets in the country.
James Wood, the former police corruption royal commission, launched an inquiry into the matter which led to the idea for the new body. Along with Wood, several senior state and federal police head honchos are worries that corruption and organized crime in sports were not being duly tackled.
The result of these actions is a new national sports integrity commission which will begin operations by July 2020. It will gather and act on intelligence about corruption and match-fixing in Australian sports. It would also have the power to conduct electronic surveillance of coaches, sports officials, and athletes and look for signs of suspected match-fixing, including the possibility of these parties passing inside information to bookmakers related to team selection.
According to Wood’s review, the commission will focus on three primary areas- assisting Australian sports in developing policies that ensure integrity, monitoring and investigating doping activity and regulation of sports wagering in the country. The commission will establish a Sports Betting Integrity Unit as well, for monitoring suspicious gambling activity in the country.
It is highly likely that the new regime will provide ASADA, the national anti-doping regulator more powers to investigating doping. The ASADA and Department of Home Affairs will work closely with the state and federal police agencies to work on this new regime and pool intelligence with the sporting code’s integrity units.
These recommendations were also added by the Wood review. It noted that the anti-doping regulator of the nation was “unable to address current and foreseeable future doping challenges effectively” if it does not undergo significant reforms.
There may be guidelines clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of ASADA under the new regime. It will also include protections for whistle-blowers.
Sporting and government officials talked to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and talked about the possible contenders for the new watchdog. Former federal police assistant commissioner David Sharpe and Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna are contending to become the new top authority in the game.
Several of the major Australian bookmakers have welcomed the new Commission. The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, the body representing major sporting codes in the country, questioned the effectiveness of the new Commission. It noted that industry cooperation was key to ensuring integrity.