The Minerva Network’s recent webinar on Integrity and Risk Management, held in conjunction with Sport Integrity Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), highlighted the importance of respectful behaviours in sport, identifying how the lack of such behaviour impacts them, the key issues threatening the integrity of sport and the risks athletes are exposed to.
Attended by athletes nationally and from around the world, along with Minerva Mentors and senior representatives from sporting bodies, the webinar provided key trends and information from Sport Integrity Australia and an insightful introduction to the AIS’s Respectful Behaviours Program.
Richard Redman and Sharyn Arnold from the AIS kicked-off the introductory session about the Program, which promotes the ethical conduct and professional behaviour of sporting professionals, and explored issues which professionally and personally challenge athletes and other sporting professionals.
Olympic Medallists and Australian Water Polo representatives Bronwen Knox (Minerva Athlete) and Jane Waldburger (Minerva Mentor) expanded on the importance of understanding what appropriate behaviour is and recognising poor conduct and behaviour.
Through interactive discussion groups key examples of some of the unspoken issues experienced in high performance sports were highlighted, including how perceptions about these prevalent issues – ranging from emotional abuse, image-based abuse, trolling and verbal harassment – differ between women and men athletes, coaches and support staff.
“Sport is one of those interesting industries that it’s seen as a cultural thing… and we accept behaviours that we wouldn’t accept in our day to day lives,” Knox said.
“Some of the issues including emotional abuse and verbal abuse are prevalent in female athlete’s experience in sport,” Waldburger said. “Understanding what is appropriate behaviour in the coach/athlete relationship is key to driving long-term change”.
CEO of Sport Integrity Australia, David Sharpe APM OAM, believes the disparity in female leadership representation is a major issue for sport integrity.
“The integrity of sport is completely challenged by the lack of female representation as CEOs and on boards... of 96 sports, there are only eight female CEOs. This needs to change, and it needs to change fast,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe reinforced the mission of Sport Integrity Australia is to protect sport through a streamlined and consistent approach via the implementation of policies and a National Integrity Framework.
He also addressed some of the key challenges facing sport today including the globalisation of sports wagering, the increased sophistication of doping, inadvertent doping, infiltration of organised crime and sexual abuse of minors.
A lack of independence in the handling of athlete complaints of sport is an area Sport Integrity Australia are heavily advocating in, especially highlighted by the undeserved nine-month sanction imposed on Australian distance runner Cassie Fien following a routine anti-doping test. Watch her remarkable story about resilience and integrity here.
“These challenges are compounded by the lack of partnerships. A nationally co-ordinated response is critical to protecting sport and its integrity,” Sharpe said. Noting that working with sanctioned athletes to improve their mental health is something the organisation is very passionate about.
Olympic bronze medallist and Director of Sport Operations and Engagement Emma Johnson presented a few simple but vital steps athletes can take to report an integrity issue, what to do if they feel an anti-doping test has not been managed correctly, and what learning resources and support is available to them if they wish to learn more about raising a concern relating to an integrity matter in sport.
Avenues for reporting concerns with Sport Integrity Australia:
• Website, phone call or App
• You can remain anonymous if you choose
• Full range of integrity threats can be reported
• We are here to help
Raise a concern
Phone: 1300 027 232
Web resources: Anonymously raise a concern online