Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Athlete rights crucial to sporting integrity

Athlete rights crucial to sporting integrity
July 24, 2019

A range of topics from World Athletics’ action on Caster Semenya to Mack Horton’s World Swimming Championship anti-doping protest, equal pay and the collective power of athletes were considered at the fourth National Sport Integrity Forum in Melbourne last night.

Presented as the opening event of the National Sports Convention, the Forum heard from high profile speakers discuss pressing issues of inclusion, equality, fairness, human and athlete rights in sport under the theme The Rise of the Athlete Rights: The Fair Play aGENDER.

The Forum, presented by Victoria University, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame and Sport Australia, featured a panel consisting of: Executive Director of the World Players Association, Brendan Schwab; former touring professional golfer and transitioned woman, Mianne Bagger; former Socceroo captain, commentator and human rights activist, Craig Foster; James Tomkins, International Olympic Committee Member, IOC Athletes Commission Member and Sport Australia Hall of Fame Member; Olympian and Commentator, Tamsyn Lewis Manou; and Dr Bridie O’Donnell, Director of the Victorian Government’s Office for Women in Sport and Recreation.

One common theme was that rules that should apply for elite sport often aren’t suited for community and grassroots sport, along with the leadership role that sport can take in social issues was also an important theme.

Schwab said the biggest issue facing global, regional and national sport, operating within its own rules and regulations, is having to come to terms with the human rights of all athletes.

He advised “sport needs to ask itself, what are the minimum standards that we expect of an international governing body such as the IOC, which can set global standards? There’s been a view that yes, we must have integrity, we can’t have corruption… but surely one of those minimum standards must be respect for the internationally recognised human rights of the athletes.”

The discussion covered a broad range of gender disparity issues in sport, including pay and prizemoney for female athletes.

On this topic, Craig Foster highlighted three key areas as being crucial - a voice at the table, a collective approach by women stepping forward to exert their rights, and the support of male champions.

Foster advised “these brave, courageous female athletes who are standing up in their domestic context haven’t come together on a global scale to really be advocates for change.”

Acknowledging the efforts of the Matildas and the U.S. Women’s Football Team, Foster added “the females in international football should be able to exert their rights and step up collectively now. You talk about athletes’ rights and athlete activism… that should happen right now.

“But also, we’ve seen very few globally recognised, legendary male players come out in support. So if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or the great players in world football were to now come out and say for Megan Rapinoe and the Matildas who are so courageous and showing great leadership, not just for sport but for social cause right across the fabric of society… I would love to see our male superstar players globally come out and say we support the Matildas, we support Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. national team. And that includes the male U.S. national team.”

On the rise of the athlete’s voice and the manner in which athletes such as Israel Folau and Mack Horton express their view, Schwab believes balance is key.

The Swiss-based sports lawyer noted “freedom of speech is not an absolute right (and) we condemn hate speech.

“But I think sport is stronger if it celebrates its diversity not its sameness and I think that we have come a long way, but what I think needs to occur is we need the activism.”

Citing the AFL and the Adam Goodes example, Schwab continued “sport now needs to act proactively.

“That player had the right to go to work without being vilified and placed in a position of harassment on the basis of his race. And a sport that respected non-discrimination would have acted proactively to say well I don’t have to be satisfied why he’s being booed, I just need to be aware that there’s a risk, there’s a risk that he’s being booed on the basis of his race and I am now going to act as the governing body of sport to minimise that and create a safe space and I think if sport acts proactively to be inclusive and to respect rights there will be a profound difference.”

Significant debate centred on how female sport can remain protected, while also inclusive.

Dr Bridie O’Donnell described sport as quite binary, with clear distinctions such as winning or losing, being offside or onside, being right or wrong, being overweight or within weight. She attributed the “grey area” of including transgender and DSD (differences of sexual development) athletes as being the cause of people’s anxiety and challenged the notion that this disrupts an otherwise level playing field.

Dr O’Donnell stated “women with elevated testosterone and trans women were thought to have had an ‘intolerable fairness’, but that other types of people can have ‘tolerable fairness’ like extremely long wingspan or an amazing ability to tolerate lactic acid or being born to very wealthy parents willing to invest in you or not being born in a country of major poverty and civil war. So sport is not fair. It’s not a level playing field.”

Tamsyn Lewis Manou, who experienced competition against DSD athletes first-hand, said the DSD athletes she raced against not only won always, but they won by a big margin. Lewis Manou said the conversation is not about Caster Semenya specifically, but about all DSD athletes and what it means for elite women’s competition today and into the future while sport categories exist as male and female.

Sharing her strong belief that elite sport should be divided based on biological sex, with gender identity being a separate issue, Lewis Manou stated “I understand the advantage that DSD athletes have, particularly in 800’s and in particular at the back end of the race and it is pretty much impossible for XX chromosome females to compete.”

While resolute in her position that the women’s category must be protected in elite sport, Lewis Manou acknowledged that “the one common ground that we have is that nobody wants to exclude anyone from competing in sport. You need to separate elite sport from community and club sport.”

Former touring professional golfer and transitioned woman Mianne Bagger was at the forefront of inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s competition when she initiated rule changes that granted her eligibility back in 2004. Bagger said she felt included during her career, but also said not enough was being done to look at this from the female athlete’s perspective. She felt people needed to be able to ask questions.

Bagger stated “It was always very important to me to be open about my life and to let anybody question what was going on, rather than being told not to question and told you’ve just got to accept this. It was very important for me at the time to turn up to tournaments, meet players, meet administrators, and just let them ask questions and to try and help educate them as best as I could from what I knew at the time and my own lived experience.”

The National Sports Convention is running until Thursday 25th July.

Images: Speakers (top) and the audience (below) at the Fourth National Sport Integrity Forum.

Related Articles

24th July 2019 - World Health Organization promotes physical activity action plan at National Sports Convention

23rd July 2019 - Mack Horton and Swimming Australia face official rebuke over ‘drug cheat’ protest

13th June 2019 - Australian Human Rights Commission releases guidelines for gender inclusivity in sport

8th April 2019 - Program launch for National Sports Convention 2019 with Reimagining Sport theme

15th February 2019 - Australian Parliament to consider legislation to strengthen sporting integrity

12th February 2019 - Federal Government announces new body to safeguard the integrity of Australian sport

22nd August 2018 - ASADA Chief Executive David Sharpe says integrity reforms can end doping conflicts

1st August 2018 - Australian sport integrity review recommends crackdown on sporting cheats

5th August 2017 - Federal Sports Minister launches review into integrity of Australian sport

22nd April 2016 - Forum to explore sport integrity issues


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

N/A 5dd5ee53c4884

Ecoline is a highly experienced and skilled company that offers world-first technology in safety, protects the environment and provides a unique and challenging custom-made adventure and educational…

read more

Attractions / Environment / Safety / Tourism

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee474806b

Playrope Aqua-Fun, are the Australian & New Zealand exclusive distributors for Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the world leader in aquatic playgrounds and urban water landscapes.…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Parks / Play / Recreation

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee62e04f1

Supreme Heating is a proud Australian owned company specialising in the latest energy efficient heating solutions. Since 1990, Supreme Heating has designed and installed commercial pool heating…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee3abcfd9

Aerobic Microphones Australia provides audio products for the fitness industry. Products include the sweat resistant Cyclemic and Aeromic headworn microphones and pouchbelts that are made in…

read more

Fitness / Technology

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee4e68b6a

Clubware’s online gym software is not your run of the mill management system. It has been carefully designed to incorporate all the elements that a fitness club would need. How did we do that?…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Recreation

 
 

METRA Australia

METRA Australia is your innovation partner for smart electronic locking, Access Control solutions and cashless payment systems to suit all types of leisure facilities.  Our team’s…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Fitness / Recreation / Security

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee5ecf9d0

JonasLeisure offers a complete range of leading leisure and recreation software brands – envibe, Centaman, Gladstone Health & Leisure, The Retention People, Nutrition Complete and…

read more

Aquatics / Billing / Fitness / Recreation / Sport

 
 

N/A 5dd5ee4d87652

As of the 1st July 2018, Enta Australasia Pty Ltd/Best Union has been rebranded as VIVATICKET Pty Ltd.  Click here to view the VIVATICKET Pty Ltd listing.  19th July 2018 - ENTA…

read more

Technology / Ticketing / Venues

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business