Legal rights stripped under changes to anti-doping laws

“The Gillard government’s proposed changes to anti-doping laws would give police-like investigative powers to anti-doping bureaucrats and strip away legal rights, such as the right to silence,” said Simon Breheny, director of the Legal Rights Project at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The proposed changes are contained in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Bill 2013 which was introduced to parliament this week in response to growing concerns over the role of performance enhancing drugs in Australian sport.

“The Bill proposes to give Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority bureaucrats the power to compel athletes to answer questions and produce documents that may assist ASADA in its investigations. These powers are exercised without the need for warrants to be issued by the courts. Government bureaucrats exercising intrusive powers of investigation should always be under a high degree of judicial oversight.”

“The Bill does not even allow athletes to refuse to answer questions on the basis that their answers could be self-incriminatory. The privilege against self-incrimination is a basic legal right. There is no justification for removing it in these circumstances.”

“Any increase in the number of government regulators with police-like powers is concerning. The proliferation of bureaucratic powers of compulsion leads to an unacceptable erosion of civil liberties,” said Mr Breheny.

For media and comment: Simon Breheny, Director, Legal Rights Project, 0400 967 382

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