Anti-doping and Human Rights in Sport: The Case of the AFL and the WADA Code
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 08:33 by Paul Horvath
In 2005, after considerable pressure from the Federal Government, the Australian Football League (AFL) agreed to adopt the World Anti-Doping Agency Code 2003 (WADA Code). This came into effect for the 2006 AFL season. There was substantial opposition to the new WADA Code from both the AFL and the AFL Players' Association. One reason was that the AFL already had an effective anti-doping code of its own in place. A second was that the AFL had implemented at the beginning of 2005 its own Illicit Drugs Policy ('IDP'). Given that the AFL already had its own framework for dealing with drug infringements, a framework based on long and careful research, the need for the WADA Code was questionable. In some respects, the AFL's own IDP was tougher than the WADA Code: it operated 44 weeks per year. The WADA Code is designed only for 'in-competition' infringements. Ultimately, as the WADA Code will be applied to AFL football, the question is its legality in certain circumstances. This paper questions whether any suspension of an AFL player for taklng recreational drugs in circumstances where there will be no performance benefit can be defended as lawful. There are good reasons to think that any such suspension will be an unlawful restraint of a player's trade as an AFL footballer.