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On Side

Sports & Recreation Podcasts

The official podcast of Sport Integrity Australia. Our mission is to protect the integrity of sport and the health and welfare of those who participate in Australian sport. Hosted by Tim Gavel, this podcast provides listeners with an opportunity to learn about integrity issues through athletes, coaches and administrators talking about contemporary and historical moments.




The official podcast of Sport Integrity Australia. Our mission is to protect the integrity of sport and the health and welfare of those who participate in Australian sport. Hosted by Tim Gavel, this podcast provides listeners with an opportunity to learn about integrity issues through athletes, coaches and administrators talking about contemporary and historical moments.






Building the Matildas’ legacy with Michelle Heyman

Former Matilda Michelle Heyman is featured in the latest episode of our podcast On Side. Michelle played for Australia 61 times between 2010-2018, booting 20 goals before a series of injuries forced her to retire from international duties in 2019. When Cortnee Vine’s penalty kick hit the back of the net against France, the whole of Australia roared as one. The recognition and support was a long time coming, says the former Australian striker. “This is something that I think every single Matilda or every single female athlete has wanted for such a long time, she says. “To see something so special like our World Cup, to see those numbers, to see the amount of people in the stands on home soil is incredible. We've pushed for this. We've tried to sell our brand for a very long time.” She says the support the team received from other sporting teams – men and women - was incredible. “Seeing the Boomers with all their jerseys on and changing the time of their game just so they could watch the girls, that's something special.” The W-League all-time record goal-scorer also talks about the Matildas' inspiring run to the semis, the growth of female sport and what keeps driving her on the pitch. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The evolution of Para sport w/ Ella Sabljak and Richard Nicholson

The latest episode of our podcast On Side explores the evolution of Paralympic sport in Australia. It also discusses the need to include Paralympic voices in the decision making, along with the role Paralympic sport can play as a vehicle for greater social inclusion and to understanding disability. It features Paralympians: Ella Sabljak, an Australian wheelchair basketball and rugby player, and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Council and Sport Integrity Australia’s Athlete Advisory Group, and Richard Nicholson, a two-time Paralympic silver medallist and part of Sport Integrity Australia’s Sports Partnerships team. What began as a simple “rallying of the troops” as a team captain has led to multiple roles as an advocate for athletes for Ella, including as a member of Paralympics Australia’s Athlete Commission. “I’ve always fought for the underdog and love helping athletes have their own voice,” she says. “You don’t really realise that athletes’ voices aren’t heard. It’s not until you’re sitting back at home after the fact and you really wish you could have made an impact or you’re seeing things differently, so I think that reflection piece as an athlete moving forward has really shaped how I carry myself and how I approach situations now.” Her appointment on the WADA Athlete Council is testament to her efforts in standing up for athletes, however she urges us all to be a “champion of change, so no one is left behind”. She also discusses the Paralympic classification system, doping in Paralympic sport, discrimination and the need for education. Richard, a two-time Paralympic medallist across two sports, discusses the evolution of Paralympics and disability sport in Australia. When he first began competing in disability sports he says he “didn’t know where” he fitted in among a “confusing” number of competing agencies. He says his first Paralympics experience in Atlanta was disappointing, in terms of the experience and his results. “Like all athletes, I was excited to get inside the village and when we arrived there was a swarm of tradies tearing down various events and various things inside the village and dismantling it and I thought ‘what’s going on here, we haven’t even started yet?’ The Paralympics in 1996 were literally saved by a philanthropic donation … or those Games would have been cancelled all together.” However, there was one incident at the Sydney Paralympic Games that changed his feelings about sport and his role within it. While he on his way to watch an event he came across a young boy with his mum, who asked her: “I wonder what sport that man plays?” The Games was a “watershed moment” for disability sport in Australia, he adds. “That’s when I started looking at the bigger picture and how I could be involved in changing that for the better.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Safeguarding our sport: collaboration for impact w/ Prof. Daryl Higgins, Kait McNamara & Emma Gardner

The latest episode of our podcast On Side looks at the issue of safeguarding participants of sport. It discusses the findings of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study and what it means for sport, and the work done as a result of Sport Integrity Australia’s review of the Western Australian Institute of Sport’s Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Program. The interview features: Professor Daryl Higgins Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University Kait McNamara Director, Child Safeguarding, Department of Local Sport and Cultural Industries (Western Australia) Emma Gardner A/g Director Safeguarding, Sport Integrity Australia. Professor Higgins revealed the findings of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study which showed 62% of Australians had experienced 1 or more types of maltreatment. Concerningly, maltreatment is chronic, not isolated, according to the study, with 2 in 5 experiencing maltreatment. “We're just scratching the surface,” he said. “We know that many forms of abuse and neglect are more prevalent for women compared to men and … looked at changes over time, gender differences, age cohort differences and that's really the power of a study as comprehensive as ours is.” He said the response to the study was positive. “We're already seeing that in terms of different sectors saying how valuable the data is to them, both in terms of prevention, knowing how extensive it is and therefore what are some of the drivers that we need to be addressing in our community, but also in terms of responses. “We know now that one of the really significant drivers of the scourge that we have in Australia of mental ill health is childhood experiences of abuse and neglect.” McNamara said the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse showed there was no type of institution that escaped this type of abuse and harm of children. However, that the response from sport is crucial. “It’s crucial for them being just aware of who can support them if something does happen at their club, who do they need to contact in the police, who do they need to contact … So I think it's around not putting our heads in the sand and making sure we just accept the fact these things could happen. “We prevent them where we can, but if they do occur, how do we support that young person in a very, very critical moment because that can really shape how they then move forward from their journey.” The key risk areas identified by the Royal Commission – such as transporting children and overnight stays – are still the same key increased risk areas that Sport Integrity Australia was seeing, according to Gardner, from Sport Integrity Australia. “Overwhelmingly the largest proportion of complaints [Sport Integrity Australia receives] involve children,” she said. Those complaints snowballed after the release of the documentary Athlete A, but “gymnastics is not an island”, she said. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The Gamechangers: race, inclusion and education with Patrick Johnson & Caitlin Basset

Former Olympic sprinter Patrick Johnson has joined Sport Integrity Australia as a Culture and Safety Advisor to ensure our responses are appropriate and informed. In this edition of On Side, Patrick talks about his role in helping to develop an agency and a sporting landscape that is culturally capable, respectful and engaging. “I think there's a shift to understanding sport as a vehicle for health, for education, to awareness, but also know what it means around reconciliation,” he says. “And I think that there's a sense of the next nine years until Brisbane 2032 that we want to ensure that all Australians are part of the Olympic Games and part of sport and that's probably a bigger picture that we've looked at.” He says the shift is even more important with the 2032 Olympics on the horizon. “You can see the shift around real respect, real acknowledgment and real understanding. There has to be a pathway regardless of where you live in this country. If you want to be a great sports person then let's make sure you have the opportunity ... It should be not just for the rich, it should be for every single person in this country to aspire, believe and could be part of.” He says the great thing about many athletes is that they are driving the change themselves because they see Australia and sport as diverse and multicultural. “But how do we ensure that it's for everyone? And I think the great thing that we've got in Australia, there's a real movement within athletes in this country that are really the game changers.” Best known for being the only Australian man to smash the 10-second barrier for the 100m, Patrick also discusses his career path, the importance of language, the role of the media, and his hopes for the future of sport. We also talk to former Australian Diamond captain and world champion Caitlin Bassett who, too, has recently taken up a role at Sport Integrity Australia as an Athlete Educator. Education has come a long way since she began her career, she says. “The information that I was getting at the start of my career and the information I was getting at the end was vastly different,” she says. “I was always learning every time we came together to do an education session, whether it being around drugs and sport, whether it be around integrity issues, around wagering and betting in sport and things like that, it was always something new and something learning because sport was evolving at such a rapid rate.” For many years the poster girl for Australian netball, she says the profile also came at a price, particularly when social media came along. “By opening up your life and sharing your life to them “[fans] is a great way, I guess, to bring them along on the ride with you,” she says, “but you are also opening yourself up to the negative side and that is obviously abuse and some of the unkind comments that come along with it.” Those comments were not only from “fans” ready to critique her performance, but from disgruntled gamblers, she says. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Sport on notice ft. legal experts Richard Young and Adair Donaldson

In the latest episode of our podcast On Side, esteemed lawyers Richard Young and Adair Donaldson provide incredible insights into their roles, including on anti-doping and abuse cases. Young, a leader in anti-doping litigation, has worked on the cases against Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, Marion Jones, and the BALCO doping scandal. He also worked on the Essendon supplements case. He says he lost sleep over “all of them” and admits there has been push back as a result of his work. “I'm not real welcome in China because of Sun Yang,” Young admits. “I'm not going back to Russia because of my role in the Russian investigation. After the Essendon case I sure got a lot of letters from Melbourne … I’ve been back to Melbourne, but I don't think I'd run for political office there.” Adair Donaldson, who specialises in assisting survivors of trauma, says the independence offered by National Integrity Framework gives sports a lot of comfort. “That's really very important,” he says. He admits, however, that the Framework will not always satisfy everybody. “And that's going to be the case no matter what … [it’s] a lot better than what we've had in the past, so that to me, is a really good step in the right direction.” Donaldson, who works closely with sporting bodies addressing cultural issues with respect to harassment, abuse, violence, and alcohol-related issues, suspects the reason why athletes are coming forward now is that “they feel confident that they will be listened to. Isn't that good? Because in the past these people have just suffered in silence.” Young admits prosecuting abuse, particularly emotional abuse, is difficult. “That will be one of the issues for Sport Integrity Australia. Is it emotional abuse? Is it motivational coaching? Is it what good coaches do? Or is it emotional abuse? And you know they’re egregious examples like coaches beating their athletes, physical abuse, but the emotional abuse gets tough, but you gotta deal with the cases and bring them if you want kids to be safe in sport or you want any athlete to be safe in sport.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


A global discussion: supplements in sport and the education challenges

Guests: Dr Sian Clancy, Alexis Cooper, Kelsa Ferguson, Cassie Fien and Nick Paterson In this episode of On Side we discuss the dangers of supplements and the importance of education in anti-doping to prevent inadvertent doping due to supplements. This podcast discussion features: For the first time in over a decade in Australia, not a single athlete tested positive to a doping test due to a supplement. “We [Sport Integrity Australia] realised that we really had to change what we did and what we said,” Cooper said. “So the first thing that we did really was change our messaging. “Athletes we know are exposed to supplements. We know that some dietitians and nutritionists are telling them to take supplements and some of them are just doing it of their own accord, so we changed it to we recommend Food First. But if you have to take a supplement then you should be using a batch-tested one. That's really the only option as an athlete. And then we took the next step of creating the Sport Integrity app, which included a list of batch-tested supplements sold in Australia to make it easy for athletes to actually do that.” Inadvertent supplement positives is not an isolated problem, Ferguson said, the problem is global and wider than simply athletes. “We have cases every year that they're related to supplement use and contamination so supplement risk or a huge part of our athlete education,” she said. “There are many of health professionals out there and doctors that also aren't aware of the risks and they're recommending supplement use to athletes. And it's important for us to educate them the same way that we educate athletes on here, or the risk here where you can go and check.” Dr Clancy said DFSNZ is focusing on “understanding, I guess, the normalisation of this and the prevalence of supplement use in trying as best we can to provide those tools to athletes so that they can navigate what is a really complex environment”. Australian marathon runner Cassie Fien found out about the danger of supplements the hard way – and was sanctioned for nine months. She “still suffers from mental health issues” as a result. “I did have a choice to just go and hideaway and never go back to my sport,” she said. “But that wasn't an option for me in the sense of it's a part of my identity. It's my purpose in life and it's what brings me so much joy. Also I knew that I didn't have anything to be ashamed of… I still take responsibility for it in the sense of my maybe naivety for being not as educated as I need it to be.” Later in the program, we also talk to the Drug Free Sport New Zealand CEO Nick Paterson about his views on education, anti-doping globally and the recent announcement that New Zealand will be combining all of its sport integrity jurisdictions to be under one roof. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Preventing a paradise for cheats with WADA president Witold Bańka (ft. Ben Sandford & Bronwen Knox)

President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Witold Bańka says the agency is monitoring the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Speaking on Sport Integrity Australia’s On Side podcast at the WADA Global Education Conference, Bańka said the situation remained very complex. “The fact that Russian and Belarussian athletes are not competing in internationally, at least majority of them, some of them they are able to compete as in neutral, but the majority are sanctioned, is very, very complicated,” he said. “We decided not to close the open line of communication with RUSADA. The world cannot create a paradise for cheats.” WADA’s president believes the anti-doping system is currently working well but acknowledges there is always room for improvement. “It's a race, you know. It's a race with the cheats,” he said. “We have to be stronger. We have to be faster. We have to have better tools to eradicate doping from sports. The rules are OK, [the] system works, but we still have to think ‘how we can do more?’” Bańka also talks about the biggest challenges WADA faces, the role education plays in WADA’s development and balancing their role of catching and punishing versus protecting and supporting. We also sit down with WADA’s Athlete Committee Chair Ben Sandford and 4 x Olympian and Integrity Manager for Boxing, Judo and Taekwondo Bronwen Knox to discuss the importance of the athlete’s voice. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


The science behind anti-doping ft. Dr Naomi Speers, Rima Chakrabarty, and Dr Laura Lallenec

Today we meet the science and medicine team behind our anti-doping efforts. In this episode of On Side, our host Tim Gavel talks to some of Sport Integrity Australia’s science and medicine experts - Chief Science Officer Dr Naomi Speers, Science Officer Rima Chakrabarty and Medical Advisor Dr Laura Lallenec. The trio discusses all things anti-doping - prohibited substances and methods in sports, the dangers supplements pose to an athlete’s career, putting the pieces of the anti-doping puzzle together, and our role working with support personnel and medical professionals to educate athletes. The evolving nature of anti-doping is part of the attraction for Dr Speers. “The challenge is keeping on top of everything that’s changing,” Dr Speers says. “Different substances that people might be using and keeping aware of them and making sure that athletes are aware [of the risks], but also changing technology and understanding that and thinking about how can we apply that. “We have a Blood Passport which looks for blood doping, a Steroid Passport which looks for doping with testosterone and next year an Endocrine Passport [will be included], which will look for doping with growth hormone.” Trying to understand a doping scenario and apply it to the results is one aspect that fascinates Chakrabarty. “Is there a physiological cause for that? Is there potentially other substances that have been used, like non-prohibited substances that can cause the impact on the Steroid Passport, for example? And also is your physiology affecting it? “Have you been doing a lot of training and that's affecting your blood passport? Or have you been to a specific location, like in an altitude … It's got a lot more nuance to it." “It’s really interesting just to be able to sit down and look at it, what’s possible and try and put a lot more pieces together.” Dr Lallenec, who is currently Head Doctor at AFL premiership team Melbourne, joined the agency in January to provide medical guidance on sport integrity matters such as the use of prohibited substances and methods in sports, safeguarding of children in the sporting environment, as well as for investigations and intelligence matters. “I love health administration and health governance as well as public health, so it's sort of combines those two things from me.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Raising the athlete voice: ft. Bronwen Downie, Jonathan Goerlach and Blake Gaudry

To understand the integrity threats within sports, Sport Integrity Australia works in close partnership with everyone who holds a piece to the puzzle – including athletes. In this episode of On Side, join Tim Gavel as he chats to three of our Athlete Advisory Group (AAG) members - former Olympic rower Bronwen Downie, Paralympic triathlete Jonathan Goerlach and Blake Gaudry, a dual Olympic trampolinist. AAG chair Bronwen Downie says she wants to be part of the solution that allows young people to stay in sport. “There has to be conversations and we have to be able to hear those to understand what’s actually happening in sports training centres, on sports fields and so that’s where I think athlete voice is growing and it's really great to see that that is being supported through people like Sport Integrity Australia,” she says. Paralympic triathlete Jonathan Goerlach praised the “different perspectives” of the group. “The majority of the organisations and the athletes that are in sport in Australia and around the world don't have lived experience with disability and a lot of those policies and decisions that are made governing these sports don't always take into account people with disability because they don't have that lived experience.’ A former trampolinist, Blake Gaudry, too, hopes his role in the Athlete Advisory Group will advance the voice of athletes within the agency. “Being on this committee, and being part of Sport Integrity Australia, I'm just keen to share those experiences and hopefully shape education and the message the right way so that in the future we can win the smart way, the safe way and, you know, the right way,” he says. “They're building a framework around member protection, child safety, and I think if we keep moving in that direction, we'll sort of see a sport that’s a lot healthier, happier and athletes with the longevity that we want.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Birmingham bound: The golden hopeful and the cool auntie with Ellie Cole and Daniela Di Toro

Between them, there are too many Paralympic medals to count – but the Commonwealth Games will be a unique experience for both Ellie Cole and Daniela Di Toro, for vastly different reasons. In this episode of On Side, join Tim Gavel as he chats to Ellie and Daniela as they train for the Commonwealth Games which starts on 28 July – one for the last time, the other the first. Ellie, who has six Paralympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet, races for the final time in Birmingham, chasing that elusive Commonwealth Games gold medal. “In my swimming career, over 17 years, I've won 17 Paralympic medals, broken something like five world records and I still can't seem to grasp the Commonwealth Games gold medal … it's the only thing that's missing from my trophy cabinet.” It has been a long road for the swimmer, who is thrilled at the progress Para sport has made over the past 17 years and the acceptance of Para athletes in the community. “The biggest difference that I've seen in Paralympic sport is the stigma around athletes with a disability,” Eliie says. “I saw at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast that young kids were asking how to be Paralympians when they were older, and they were drawing pictures of people in wheelchairs on gold medal podiums. So they're drawing the parallel that you can still have a disability and be a champion. Whereas in 2006, you know, that conclusion was never drawn from seeing someone with a disability.” With retirement looming, Ellie also discussed her life after swimming, which includes her role on Sport Integrity Australia’s Athlete Advisory Group. “We have a lot to offer to Sport Integrity Australia as athletes, and it's wonderful to also be the other side of the coin, see that they’re willing to listen and wanting to understand firsthand experiences from us as well.” By her own admission, it’s been a long time since Daniela has been called a “rookie”, having made her Paralympic Games debut in Atlanta in 1996. After all, as a wheelchair tennis player, she has won almost all there is to win in her sport: from Paralympic medals to Grand Slam titles to a number-one world ranking. Now competing as a wheelchair table tennis player, it will be the Victorian veteran’s first time at the Commonwealth Games. “To be able to have a rookie experience is a really cool thing. So, you know, it's really exciting as well, the actual newness of it. I've never been on a team with able bodied and Para high performance athletes, so it's incredibly exciting,” she says. “It’s the friendly games, which is really cool that you can kind get to be in this kind of environment that’s super ultra-competitive, but there's real awareness of community and connection and I'm looking forward to that as well.” While she may be a senior member of the team, just don’t call her the “mother-figure” – she’d prefer to be that “cool Aunty”. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Making his mark - from AFL to AAG with Eric Mackenzie (ft. Petria Thomas)

Former West Coast Eagles captain Eric Mackenzie has been announced as the latest member of Sport Integrity Australia’s Athlete Advisory Group. In this episode of On Side, join Tim Gavel as he chats to Eric Mackenzie and Petria Thomas to talk about joining the Athlete Advisory Group, and how the group can be used to make meaningful strides in athlete education. The 2014 John Worsfold Medallist says that his experiences as an athlete, as well as an ambassador to the International Testing Agency, have highlighted challenges in educating athletes. “Once you’re on an AFL list, trying to schedule in any time to for these education sessions is next to impossible,” Mackenzie says. “There are so many things that they have to do and when they finally get [an education session] in it’s more of a box ticking exercise. “There’s no real engagement by the players. Everyone thinks they know or thinks ‘oh well that’s not going to impact me’, so they tune out. Often, it’s done after a main training session or something all you want to do is go somewhere and go to sleep. So, you don’t actually take anything in.” Mackenzie acknowledges that there are improvements to be made and says he believes that a focus on education is crucial in preventing integrity threats from occurring. “That’s definitely where it can be improved and how it’s delivered is huge, especially to the young guys. You want to be proactive not reactive. You’re better off educating and preventing these things from happening. “You look at a couple of instances lately, there’s a lot of great learnings from it, but they need to be used going forward to stop things like this happening again.” Former AAG member and now Sport Integrity Australia’s Assistant Director, Petria Thomas, agrees that engaging the athlete in education is the key. “At the end of the day, we want to prevent things from happening and education is the best way to achieve that,” she says. The agency is working hard to roll out more informative and innovative education, she says. “You’ve got to have buy in,” Thomas agrees. “You can produce all the online courses in the world but unless people are buying into it, it doesn’t achieve what we want it to achieve. “It’s about finding innovative ways to get the message out to both the organisations that run sport and the member and participants in sport as well.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Nerves of steel with Jackie Narracott, Paul Narracott and Michael Milton

Travelling 140km/h downhill head-first on ice is not for the faint-hearted, but Jackie Narracott is no shrinking violet. After her first attempt at the sport, she asked: how do I go faster? Ahead of her second Winter Olympics, which starts in Beijing next week, Narracott talks to On Side about her switch from the track, what it’s like going head-first at 140km/h, her hopes for the upcoming Games, and her impressive family pedigree. She is, after all, following in the footsteps of her famous uncle, Paul – the first Australian Olympian to compete at both Summer and Winter Games. Fast forward 10 years and Narracott, who is based in the UK, became the first Australian to win a World Cup gold medal in skeleton when she broke the track record in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. That amazing run came in St Moritz, where she broke the track record with a time of 1:08.72 seconds to shock the field. “Everything came together, right time, right place,” she admits. “I’ve always known I can do it, now I’ve got that concrete evidence to say, ‘I’m not crazy, I can actually do it’, which his nice.” Putting on the Australian jacket for the 2018 Games was “an absolute dream come true”, she says, however she feels she is “in a much better position to perform …. this time around I think it’s about achieving my potential”. For his part, “Uncle Paul”, who once beat Carl Lewis over 60 metres, told On Side that he was thrilled his exploits “opened her eyes to the fact that there are sporting opportunities other than the mainstream sports”. He encourages everyone to look beyond traditional sports - like Jackie did. “It’s a 10-year journey and it’s only really the last 3-4 years where it’s really coming together [for Jackie],” he says. “I thinks she’s a real chance, she’s not a favourite, but she’s a realistic chance [in Beijing].” We also talk to our most successful Winter Paralympian Michael Milton, who won six gold, three silver and two bronze medals. “Snow, ice, it’s magical stuff as to how much fun you can have on it,” he says. “How high you can jump. How fast you can go. For me, everything around winter sports is based on snow and ice and it’s fantastic fun to do as an athlete.” He also discusses our chances at the Paralympics, the impact of Covid-19 on the Games, and how Dylan Alcott is changing society’s perceptions of people with a disability. “The more people with disabilities that we see in every different area of our lives, whether it be social, whether it be work, whether it be on television as elite athletes, the more we can include people with disabilities in every single area of our life the better off society will be, the better off those people with disabilities will be.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Brenton Rickard: low level, maximum difficulty (ft. Dr Naomi Speers)

Australian swimmer Brenton Rickard’s world was turned upside down when a retest of a urine sample taken at the 2012 London Olympics returned a “low-level” positive result. With his entire relay team set to be stripped of a bronze medal, Rickard talks to On Side about the difficulties in challenging the allegations eight years later - and at his own expense. Rickard, who believes an over-the-counter pharmaceutical tablet contained the banned diuretic furosemide, says he felt “hopeless” trying to prove his innocence eight years after the event. “It’s just an impossible task,” he says. “We could argue the legal case of how and what transpired, but the burden of proof is very much on the defendant to show the contamination and there’s just no way of doing it eight years after the fact. “When you get notified and just the sheer disbelief, but then you realise the reality is that six people were facing losing an Olympic medal from something that wasn’t my fault.” The case, and others like it happening at the same time, triggered a landmark change to the World Anti-Doping Agency rules relating to the threshold of banned substances, ultimately leading to the International Olympic Committee withdrawing the charges. Rickard, who represented Australia in London 2012 and Beijing 2008, is now working with Sport Integrity Australia to help the agency better understand the impact inadvertent doping can have on an athlete’s wellbeing. “As testing improves, as different processes are put in place to try to catch people who are deliberately cheating, you also need to adjust policies and rules to then not punish innocent people for things outside of their control,” he says. In this episode we also discuss the science behind low-level detections and why athlete samples are stored and re-tested with Sport Integrity Australia’s Chief Science Officer Dr Naomi Speers. Dr Speers says the ability to store samples and analyse them is an important part of the anti-doping program. “It has a really significant deterrence effect,” she says. “Science and technology is constantly advancing and this means we can use the advances of technology in science in the last 10 years and apply them to samples from the past. So that means doping athletes are not only against the science and technology now, but the science and technology of the future.” Dr Speers also discusses inadvertent doping from pharmaceuticals, the dangers of supplements, the recent WADA rule changes and the major changes to the Prohibited List that will come into effect on 1 January 2022. Finally, in our segment From Left Field, our athlete educator Annabelle Cleary answers the question “Do you have a case to plea if you tested positive to batch tested supplements?” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Abuse, complaints and independence in sport with Football Australia CEO James Johnson and more

Welcome to Season 3 of On Side. We’re looking forward to monthly episodes as we get ready for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing, along with the men’s World Cup and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Join Tim Gavel as he chats to James Johnson, Emma Johnson and Jacob Holmes, during this pivotal time in Australian sport, and hear them reflect on the potential impact they believe Football Australia’s decision will have on the future of sport in this country. Earlier this month a number of Australian female soccer players spoke out about allegations of abuse in the sport and as a result Football Australia approached Sport Integrity Australia and the National Sports Tribunal to investigate the allegations. In this episode we look at the importance of having an independent organisation handling complaints, investigations and tribunals in Australian sport. Football Australia CEO James Johnson was quick to recognise that an in-house approach to handling complaints was not going to be enough with the Australian community expecting a greater level of independence. “It hit the sport like a tsunami and we had to respond quickly and I was comforted by the fact we were already in touch with Sport Integrity Australia about how we could improve in this area, so we were able to enter a partnership very quickly,” he says. Johnson acknowledges the need to provide a forum where there can be feedback that is independent of the sport so that victims can feel comfortable and safe, without fear of their complaints impacting the future of their sporting career. “It’s about the victims. If someone is aggrieved they need to have an avenue/forum independent of us. They need to be able to talk their experience, their issue and it needs to be someone who is listening and not someone making sporting decisions.” “There are two objectives”, says Johnson, “One is about solving the issues for the victims and secondly it’s about breeding confidence back into the sport, that if there are issues, they will be dealt with.” Deputy CEO of Sport Integrity Australia, Emma Johnson, is pleased Football Australia agreed to take on the independent complaints handling model. “These matters are complex and a lot of sports haven’t always had the capacity to deal with these things, particularly at this serious end of allegations”, she says, “So this was the best way we thought we could support them and support athletes in sport”. “We’ve seen in the last twelve months a real shift and an awakening across sport that they need systems and processes in place to deal with issues like this,” she continues, “There’s definitely an appetite across the board for the improvement of integrity policies and culture in sport.” Jacob Holmes, CEO of the peak body representing Australia’s elite professional athletes, the Australia Athletes Alliance, concurs. “We all want in sport for athletes to feel supported, empowered and that they can come to a confidential body”, says Holmes. Holmes highlights there has been a power imbalance for athletes in sport, but the new independent approach to complaints handling goes a long way to giving power back to those who may not have had it otherwise. “We have to be better at providing those support mechanisms, a voice and a representation within the actual institutions of integrity in sport for athletes to actually feel empowered in that way,” he says. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Kate McLoughlin and David Culbert

In the final edition of our Clean and Gold series of On Side, we relive the Paralympic Games highlights with the team’s chef de mission Kate McLoughlin and Channel 7 commentator David Culbert. Madi de Rozario’s gold and the silver to Jaryd Clifford on the final day of competition brought the team total to 21 gold, 29 silver and 30 bronze. McLoughlin tells hosts Tim Gavel and Petria Thomas that her main challenge was keeping athletes safe and “making sure they had that opportunity to perform”. This involved constant changes and reworking of scenario plans to try to ensure they were a step ahead to give athletes every opportunity to perform at their best. “They are elite athletes in every sense of the word,” she says. “They are just the same as their Olympic counterparts and they dealt with the changes and the challenges so brilliantly.” She says the whole team was “overwhelmed” with the reaction they received from home. “The fact that there was 14 hours of coverage in Australia, the fact that people were in lockdown and not able to go anywhere was a silver lining for us in a way,” she says. “…So many more eyeballs on the Paralympic team than ever before and hopefully a realisation of what an amazing team it is.” McLoughlin believes the focus on performances and not disabilities has been a gradual shift. David Culbert, a commentator for both the Olympic and Paralympic games, agrees. “At the end of the day the classification system whilst not 100% perfect in Paralympic sport, it groups like athletes with like athletes, so you can remove that element of it and just concentrate on the performance,” he says. “What times they do are only relevant to the times that they do, so therefore you need to know their personal bests, their season’s best, the Paralympic records…” He says the Games offered a glimpse of hope for people with a disability and their parents. “The interesting thing about the Paralympics is that there would be a lot of parents that would be worried about their young children who have got a disability, whether it’s congenital or whether it’s acquired, they would be watching that and thinking that’s there’s nothing my son or daughter can’t do…” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Chris Nunn and Ahmed Kelly

This episode of Clean and Gold celebrates the Paralympic Games – an event that is so often referred to as “more than sport”. Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, this edition features Paralympic mentor and former Australian head coach Chris Nunn and Paralympic hopeful, swimmer Ahmed Kelly. Nunn, who works as a consultant with the Oceania Paralympic Committee, says due to a lack of resources, many of the emerging countries that he has been mentoring will not be able to make it to the Games. “We are a country of haves,” he says. “We have as many resources as we can get and I’ve worked in countries that have had nothing and invested a lot of time and effort that are not be going to the Paralympic Games. “They cannot get there or get back without a five-week quarantine. These people have a minimal amount of work and just can’t afford to do that.” Nunn, who has opted not to go to Tokyo for the Games but will coach remotely, laments the direction the Paralympics has taken and says it’s now a landscape “for the less disability you have the higher chance of you being selected to represent your country”. “The disappointing part of where Paralympic sport has gone is that fact that we are now doing everything we can to chase the medal,” he says. “It’s gone away from the initial concept of what the Games is all about.” While he admits he is somewhat “disillusioned”, Nunn says he will always be an advocate for an equal playing field for all. “I will never deny an athlete a chance to be the best they can be, and never deny a coach the access to education that will help them produce a better athlete, but, boy, we’ve still got some hurdles to overcome in Para sport in terms of getting the right group of athletes there to showcase Para sport.” Kelly, who made his Paralympic debut at the London Games in 2012, was born in Baghdad with under-developed arms and legs – not uncommon in countries torn by chemical warfare. He was adopted at the aged of seven by an Australia women and is now competing in his third Games. Kelly admits it’s “going to be one of the strangest Games that I’m going to be a part of but as long as I get to wear the green and gold and the gold cap I’ll be pretty happy”. While he may be inspiring others, he finds others with similar difficulties equally inspiring. “To be able to see how people with a disability get around and do their own business that also inspires me to do better,” he says. “I want people who have a disability or who look just like me, to know they have just as amount of opportunity to be able to be successful, whether it’s in life or in the pool. I want them to give it a crack because if you don’t give it a crack, you will never know.” See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Lucy Stephan, Alex Purnell and Glenn Mitchell

It was billed as “the Olympics the world had to have” and it certainly delivered. This episode of Clean and Gold looks back at the Games’ highlights and features two of our gold medallists, rowers Lucy Stephan and Alex Purnell. Stephan, who grew up in Nhill - a town with no water for years, says she was “prepared for anything” when her races were delayed by an approaching typhoon. “I think, honestly, it’s kind of like, ‘ok, what else have we got,” says Stephen, who won the coxless four event alongside Rosemary Popa, Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre. Being the first Olympic gold medallist from a town of less than 2000 people, one of the things she’s looking forward to the most is heading home and sharing it with the school kids. “You don’t have the luxury of seeing those people around you often go off and do sport and amazing things, especially a sport like rowing,” she says. “This [gold medal] may help push and guide those young kids to help them achieve their goals, whatever they may be.” Fellow gold medallist Alex Purnell says the lack of international competition may have played in their favour. “I think it was an advantage for us,” he says. “It was nice that there was no real form guide so we could fly under the radar, do our thing and it ended up working out well for us and we managed to cross the line in front.” Alongside men’s four crew mates Alex Hill, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves, they held off a fast-finishing Romania to win gold, ending Great Britain’s dominance in the event since the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The foursome dug deep for inspiration and drew on the Raiders for strength. “At that point when everything is hurting so much you try and draw inspiration from somewhere and just try and find an extra something,” he says. “Over the last 100 it was ‘Raiders, Raiders, Raiders!” And the prospect of Paris 2023? Both admit it’s definitely “tempting” that’s for sure. ABC commentator Glen Mitchell, a veteran of four Olympic Games, admits he was ambivalent in the lead-in the Tokyo Games given the lack of crowds and the fact the majority of the Japanese didn’t want them to go ahead. “I was pleasantly surprised how watching the Olympic Games, it [lack of a crowd] didn’t really stand out to me so much, it changed my perception in some ways to have crowds at venues,” he says. While highlights included watching Jess Fox and Peter Bol race, Mitchell also enjoyed the camaraderie of the athletes, particularly those competing in the new Olympic sports of skateboarding and BMX riding. “I thought that was really heart-warming the way the youngsters reacted to their competitors that had actually had a bad run, it’s not the sort of thing you’re used to seeing at the Olympics competition.” Finally former Olympian Ben Hardy, a Sport Integrity Australia’s Intelligence Analyst, shares his top tips for competing clean. Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Raelene Boyle, Bronwen Knox and Milly Tapper

Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, this blockbuster edition of our Clean And Gold series features champion sprinter Raelene Boyle, four-time Olympian Bronwen Knox and dual Olympic and Paralympic table tennis player Milly Tapper. Raelene burst on to the scene at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico as a 16-year-old, taking home a silver medal in the 200m sprint. She went on to win silver medals in the 100m and 200m sprints in Munich, only for it to be later revealed that she was cheated out of gold in what remains one of the greatest travesties in the history of Australian sport. “I look back at it and I just hope that people don’t remember me for those things or remember me as an athlete for those things, or for whingeing,” she says. “I’ve never really whinged about it it’s just what happened, it is what it was and there’s an awful lot more to my career than that.” She remains divided over the suggestion of a retrospective gold medal. “It would be nice to have a gold medal but I wasn’t first over the line,” she says. “I don’t know, there’s different ways to view it, you could say Renate Stecher was loaded with testosterone and sure a male is always going to beat a female over the distances that I ran….oh, I don’t know, I don’t know how I feel about it.” She also talks about integrity in sport, the evolving Olympic Games, her battles with cancer and, showing her trademark sense of humour, Raelene insists she can “still push out a bit of weight for a grey headed old bag”. Dual Olympic bronze medallist Bronwen Knox is preparing for her fourth Olympic campaign, one much different to her previous campaigns. In the absence of international competition for 18 months, the Sport Integrity Australia athlete educator says the Stingers are “just going in solely focussing on what we need to do….having that focus solely on us and what we can control”. Bronwen admits returning to the pool after COVID was more difficult than she had anticipated. “… having that really long break during the first COVID lockdown and not being able to train, it sort of took everyone by surprise ….there was nothing in place for us to stay engaged, stay involved, to stay in shape. Being an older athlete the body sorts of disintegrates on you and getting back and try to start again there was just roadblock after roadblock.” At Rio, Milly Tapper made history by becoming the first Australian athlete to qualify for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Milly, who has an injury that causes paralysis of the arm, started playing table tennis in 2002 while she was still at primary school. Regardless of the competition, she treats everybody the same. “Everyone that I compete again is turning up and trying to play their best to win,” she says. “Every athlete that you play has a different strength, a different weakness, regardless if it’s able bodied or Para, you still need to find a way to be able to win the point. For me, it’s exactly the same approach.” Her first venture into the competitive Paralympic world was an eye-opener – as a youngster she didn’t know that the Paralympics existed. “When I went into this international stage, some had one arm, one leg, no legs … The only thing I did notice was every athlete’s ability to play table tennis….. they can find a way regardless to get on the job and play table tennis amazingly.” Finally, former Sydney 2000 Olympic rower Kerry Knowler, our Assistant Director Anti-Doping, shares her top tips for competing clean. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean and Gold: Chris Bond and Kim Brennan (Crow)

Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, this Clean And Gold episode features two-time Paralympic gold medallist Chris Bond and Olympic gold medallist Kim Brennan (nee Crow). Bond, who was 19 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia which resulted in amputation of both his legs below the knee, says it was the power of sport that helped him adjust to life with prosthetic limbs. “Sport’s great at that,” he says. “It always has competition, year on year, and milestones in terms of testing and fitness and performance and that kind of thing. You go incrementally. You’ve got something to look forward to, something to compete at which has helped stay positive.” Bond also reminisces about being part of the “best wheelchair rugby match ever”, a double overtime win against Team USA to become a back-to-back Paralympic gold medallist, retirement, and the legacy he hopes to leave when his playing days are over. For Brennan, she says striving for Olympic gold changed her life. “Sport teaches you a huge amount of who you are and what you believe in,” she says. “The medal is wonderful, but it’s the journey and striving that went into the medal that actually made me the person that I am and has given me opportunities beyond the rowing course.” Brennan, who won gold in the women's single scull after leading the race from start to finish, believes the athletes that adjust best to living in a bubble will succeed in Tokyo. “There’s going to be a lot of idle times sitting in rooms, and that’s something that those we are prepared and are comfortable in their own thoughts I think are going to be the ones who really relish the opportunity to get out there.” To wrap it up our athlete educator Bronwen Knox, soon to be a 4-time Olympian, gives her top tips for competing clean. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


Clean And Gold: Anna Meares and Curtis McGrath

At On Side we are celebrating the impending Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo with a special Clean and Gold series. Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, our Clean And Gold series features some of Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic greats about their Olympic journey. Today we speak to two-time Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares and Paralympic gold medallist Curtis McGrath. By her own admission Meares has come a long way from that little girl riding a BMX bike, winning two Olympic gold medals eight years apart. Her story is one of resilience, with her fighting spirit instrumental in coming back from breaking her neck in a horrific crash at a World Cup meet in Los Angeles to winning an Olympic silver medal just seven months later. She is the only female track cyclist in history to have won Olympic medals in all four sprint events – keirin, sprint, team sprint and the 500m time trial (discontinued) – but, surprisingly, her proudest moment is off the track. “My proudest moment was being flag bearer in Rio … I feel like that was in recognition of the accumulation of performances over a long time, being consistent over 16 years being at the elite senior level, being at the Olympics and world championships every year and being on the podium,” she says. McGrath, too, has battled back from the most agonising of circumstances. He took up canoeing as part of his rehabilitation after having both of his legs amputated as a result of a mine blast whilst serving in the Australian Army in Afghanistan. When he was being carried on the stretcher in Afghanistan he told his comrades that he would go to the Paralympics. “I didn’t say that with much substance and much knowledge of what that actually meant,” he says, “but it was a comment to try and ease the minds of the guys around me, they were also going through a pretty traumatic experience.” It makes his para-canoe gold medal at Rio all the more poignant. “I think that’s part of the reason why I pursued the Paralympic journey not for my own goals and mindset but to show that I was still capable and still able to get out there and do things and be a part of something so great as the Paralympic Games.” However, the aftermath of that gold-medal race was not as he expected. “[When I crossed the line] I expected to be excited and a huge sense of joy and excitement that I’d achieved that but what I actually got was this huge wave of relief … I almost physically felt it. It was like this wave that fell on me, the relief of going through what I went through over those four years and culminating to crossing that line and being a gold medallist is one that I didn’t expect whatsoever.” To wrap things up, Sport Integrity Australia’s medical adviser Dr Larissa Trease, an Australian Olympic and Paralympic team doctor, gives her top tips on competing clean. #cleanandgold See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.