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ESSA slams Government’s lack of action in Senate Inquiry report

ESSA slams Government’s lack of action in Senate Inquiry report
July 24, 2013

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has strongly criticised the report resulting from the Federal Senate Inquiry into sports science.

ESSA, which has long been calling for action to protect both professional athletes and the sports science industry in Australia, slammed the Senate Inquiry report, the 'Practice of sports science in Australia' for failing to recommend the accreditation of sport science professionals.

ESSA Executive Officer Anita Hobson-Powell issued the following statement in response to the release of the report.

The statement reads:

"ESSA is Australia's premier accreditation body for sports scientists and therefore applauded the recent Senate Inquiry into sports science practices. We believe it provided an opportunity for the government to finally enforce compulsory accreditation for sports scientists who work with professional athletes, or sports receiving federal Government funding for their high performance teams, in line with other sports-medicine experts such as sports physicians, doctors, physiotherapists and dietitians.

"Recent scandals across various sporting codes have highlighted that sports scientists arguably have the greatest contact with and influence over athletes, yet they continue to be the only members of a high-performance team that are not required to be accredited or registered by a professional body or national regulator. We, along with all of the stakeholders in the industry who participated in the Inquiry, expected this anomaly would be addressed in this Senate Inquiry.

"We are therefore shocked and disappointed at the government's failure to tackle the real issue in this report, choosing rather to wait for the release of the ASADA and ACC final reports before making any decisions.

"We strongly believe that the outcome of these reports should have no impact on this decision. The current reality is that the vast majority of sports scientists working with professional sports codes have no independent body overseeing their qualifications and professional standards. It doesn't take further investigations to see that this anomaly will continue to put players' lives at risk and further delay is not only irresponsible but negligent. Do we really need an even "darker day for Australian sport" before the government will act?

"This is no time to look to others to make the hard decisions; this Senate Inquiry provided a clear opportunity for bipartisan support to put things right and the Liberals and Labour failed to do so.

"In the interim, professional sports clubs will continue to expose their prized assets – their athletes – to sport science professionals who may not hold appropriate qualifications. While the politics continues, real people will continue to face the risks, scandals will continue to plague professional sporting codes and the integrity of the industry and sporting codes will continue to be compromised.

"At a time where there is such a clear lack of leadership, it's encouraging that a club like the Port Adelaide AFL Club has taken the initiative to make accreditation compulsory for all high performance and sports science staff. We congratulate them and encourage others to follow suit.

"ESSA is the self-regulating professional body for sports scientists in Australia and has been calling for compulsory accreditation for over two decades. Our robust accreditation system has attracted over 3,700 members and provides recognition of qualifications, minimum entry standards, assurance of practice standards, a code of conduct and ethics and an avenue for complaints. Our accredited sports scientists are required to adhere to similar standards to the medical profession, which puts the duty of care to the athlete as a priority.

"As a single regulator, ESSA would deliver benefits to both sports and government bodies. We can offer a clear definition of "sports scientist"; the lack of clarity at present leads to confusion for sports, athletes, governments, agencies and employers."

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