Sports leaders thrash out integrity issues

Around 300 of Australia’s sporting leaders met at the 'Integrity in Sport - Winning at what price?' Forum to tackle the growing issue of integrity in sport.

Match fixing, gambling, drugs, salary cap rorting and athlete behaviour attacking the cultural values of Australian sport were all under the spotlight. The issues of pressure on athletes and clubs to perform and the role sport science plays in today's sport were explored.

The forum was jointly hosted by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and Victoria University, with the support of the Australian Institute of Sport and Lander & Rogers Lawyers.

Moderated by journalist Francis Leach the guest panel featured:

  • John Bertrand of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame
  • Andrew Demetriou, outgoing CEO of the AFL
  • Olympic Athlete Kim Crow
  • Simon Hollingsworth,CEO if the Australian Sports Commission, Sport Ethicist and VU alumna
  • Pippa Grange
  • Professor Hans Westerbeek, Dean of the College of Sport and Exercise Science.

Victoria University’s Dennis Hemphill, who is an Associate Professor in Sport Ethics said,

“The ‘crisis’ events of Australian sport last year suggest that radical changes are required to re-build the integrity of Australian sport.

“The challenge is how to maintain the integrity of sport and public trust without resorting to a police state to achieve it. There will be those who argue for more surveillance, policing and punitive powers and those who argue for education, culture change, organisational change and community development. The former has the momentum, but the crisis events of last year suggest that the latter might be needed.

Associate Professor Hemphill said,

“Sport is held up as having the potential to promote a range of values, including participation, excellence, fairness, skill development, fun, self-discipline and hard work, teamwork and camaraderie, social integration and community development, as well as health, safety and fitness.

“The challenge is how to maintain pluralism and balance in sport, when it seems that winning – at all costs – is the norm, not just for elite, high-performance sport, but for those involved and managing youth and community sport.

“The health, safety and wellbeing issues are paramount to the integrity of sport, which can be extended to include efforts to combat sexism, homophobia, racism, violence and other forms of demeaning and discriminatory behaviours in sport.

“The standard of sporting excellence will need to be more than simply ‘whatever it takes’ to win. It will need to include measures of duty of care, as well as collective ownership of, and responsibility for organisational culture. Part of this culture change will no doubt require that all stakeholders have the courage to speak up when things don’t seem right”.

Related media

Official forum media releases:

The forum sparked significant conversation and interest in traditional and online media:

View image gallery from the night.

See all news