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Conference of Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport - France (30 Oct 2015)

Opening

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Greetings, greetings, greetings to all and every one of you.

Madame Director-General, Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Honourable Ministers and distinguished guests, it’s a pleasure to be here in Paris.

This year’s conference celebrates a significant milestone – it is ten years since governments around the world agreed to apply the force of international law to addressing doping.

I have been asked to speak today on an important topic - The rule of law and sport governance: the pillars of sport integrity. This strongly aligns with my commitment to continue to strengthen the relationship between sport and Government in New Zealand.

The role of Government in supporting sports

Governments have an important role to play in supporting and encouraging sport both at a domestic and at an international level.

When a Government invests in high performance sport the whole country benefits. Success on the world stage unites a nation, it inspires future athletes and encourages healthy lifestyles.

Governments also have the important tool of regulation to help safeguard this investment, with the ability to prioritise education and enforcement actions to support this effort.

Sport in New Zealand

Before I talk about sport integrity I’d like to provide you with some insight into the New Zealand sport system.

It’s a great time to be Sport Minister in New Zealand.

Hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup was a sensational way to start the year. More than 325,000 people attended the 23 matches held here and well over a billion watched the global broadcast.

The New Zealand Black Caps captured the nation’s imagination and inspired a new generation of cricketers.

Since our successful hosting of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, New Zealand has continue to build a reputation for hosting world class international sporting events. In the middle of year we also hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The tournament was broadcast to around 100 countries with a global TV audience of 170 million.

Of course we’re currently in the midst of the Rugby World Cup 2015. It’s been a fantastic tournament with some stand out moments to date.

I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the All Blacks for their performances to date. The whole nation is excited as we await Saturday’s final at Twickenham.

The importance of sport in New Zealand culture

Sport is one of the few positive experiences which can really unify a nation. When New Zealanders are competing on the world stage, it brings us together.

Sport is important to New Zealanders. It’s part of our national psyche. Many of our greatest heroes have been sports people. Saturday morning sport has been a rite of passage for generations of Kiwis.

New Zealanders participation

There are many benefits to participating in sports and keeping active.

When we take part in sport at a young age we learn important life skills, such as teamwork, co-operation and resilience. You learn how to win, but sometimes more importantly, it’s about how you lose.

You also learn about fair play, which at its core is really what this Convention is all about.

Maintaining or even increasing these high participation rates is only going to become increasingly difficult.

New Zealand is not unique in its drift towards a more sedentary lifestyle, it’s a global trend.

Since 2006 obesity in New Zealand has increased from 27 per cent of the population, to 31 per cent.

Ten per cent of New Zealand children aged between 2 – 14 years are obese. A third of adults are obese while a further third are overweight.

Research by our Ministry of Health shows that one in three New Zealand school children are obese or overweight, and that more than a third are inactive.

Obesity

As well as being the Sport and Recreation Minister, I am also the Health Minister.

This is the first time the New Zealand Prime Minister has paired these two portfolios.

Before travelling to Europe I launched New Zealand’s first ever obesity package.

Encouraging active lifestyles is a key focus of this package.

There is no quick fix to our obesity epidemic, but getting moving is a really good start.

This package is another example of how sport and Government can benefit from working closely together.

Why sport integrity is so important

For sport to continue to capture our imagination, inspire future athletes and encourage healthy lifestyles – the integrity of sport is paramount.

Whenever the integrity is questioned, sports itself is the biggest loser.

A recent example for New Zealanders is Valerie Adams at the 2012 London Olympics.

Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk claimed the gold medal in the woman’s shot put before returning two positive drug tests at the Games.

The gold medal was eventually returned to Valerie and she was an Olympic champion once again.

Valerie Adams moment of glory was stolen from her by a drug cheat. That moment she had worked hard for four years was taken from her.

In New Zealand we believe that you play hard, but you play fair.

We must continue to work hard to ensure clean athletes get the recognition they deserve and that drug cheats are exposed and banned.

What New Zealand is doing to support and encourage integrity in sports
In New Zealand we have three agencies, each playing a crucial role in anti-doping:

The first is Drug Free Sport New Zealand which implements the WADA World Anti-Doping Code, providing crucial anti-doping education and testing athletes.

The second is Sport New Zealand which provides policy advice and ministerial support on anti-doping and represents our international policy interests at the government-to-government level.

The third is the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand which hears our anti-doping rule violation cases.

Between these three independent bodies, along with the WADA World Anti-Doping Code and our own Anti-doping legislation, we have an anti-doping framework that is very effective in ensuring the spirit of sport is preserved in New Zealand.

As Minister for Sport and Recreation, I currently represent New Zealand and Oceania on the Foundation Board and the Executive Committee of WADA.

The wider issues threatening sports integrity

While this convention is focussed mainly on the issue of doping in sport, the integrity threat to sport is much wider than that.

Reports of match-fixing, corruption and organised crime in sport continue to surface across the world.

Following concerning revelations in February 2013 of sport integrity threats in Australia, the New Zealand Government took steps to assess our own sport system.

Although we did not find any systemic issues in relation to sport integrity threats, there were a number of areas where we considered our sport system could be strengthened.

As a result we established a Sport Inter-Agency Integrity Group. 

The Sport Inter-agency Integrity group

This group comprises agencies from across the sport and government sector, including Drug Free Sport New Zealand, the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Sport New Zealand, High Performance Sport New Zealand, New Zealand Police, Customs, the Ministry of Health and the Serious Fraud Office.

Although established less than two years ago, the group has already led a number of government actions to address doping, match-fixing and corruption in sport.

This has included adding specific offences for match-fixing to our legislation, which was considered necessary ahead of hosting two major international sporting events this year - the ICC Cricket World Cup and the FIFA Under 20 World Cup.

This inter-agency and sport sector cooperation is a part of the New Zealand system that I consider can and should be replicated internationally.

Governments should be facilitating both the sharing of information and collaboration of multiple agencies across the sport and public sectors to maximise their response to doping and other integrity issues.

A recent example of this happening in New Zealand is Drug Free Sport New Zealand attending Police and Customs debriefs around drug traffickers dealing in steroids.

The information gleaned from these debriefs is crucial to DFSNZ’s ongoing work in terms of tackling doping in sport, with a focus on reducing the supply of drugs.

Another example of cooperation across the government and sport sectors is the development and implementation of our national match-fixing policy.

This policy provides a comprehensive response from criminal sanctions through to model rules and education for sports to reduce the threat of match-fixing.

But we cannot be complacent.

In New Zealand we are currently considering whether our response in the area of sport integrity as it relates to doping, match-fixing and corruption in sport is adequate.

We are examining whether our current set-up needs to be changed given the growing international threat in these areas.

You all have an important role

The sporting community must also play its part.

I commend WADA and the International Olympic Committee for their work on the international stage to address sport integrity risks.

At a national level it is incumbent on national sporting bodies to also take the threats of doping, match-fixing and other sport integrity risks seriously and have their own mechanisms in place to deal with issues in these areas.

In New Zealand, as well as providing support to sporting bodies in this area, the Government only provides investment to national sporting organisations that adopt the WADA anti-doping rules and implement their own anti-match-fixing policies.

I would encourage other nations to adopt this approach.

Further, the NZ Olympic Committee has developed regulations requiring all personnel attending the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and other IOC events to adhere to certain sport integrity requirements.

If the regulations aren’t followed then there can be no involvement in these events.

One thing that’s clear is the threat to sport integrity still exists and everyone in this room has a crucial role to play in extinguishing the threat.

Governments must be prepared to take a lead role in the fight.

While providing regulatory and resource support, including building the capability of sports bodies, Governments must also insist that sporting organisations take ownership of the problem and do all they can within their means to play their role.

There are some elements of the anti-doping work which only they can take responsibility for.

Closing

There are, and always will be, individuals and groups who seek to make fortune and fame by cheating in sport. They are doing this with ever increasing sophistication.

By going down this path they also cheat the thousands if not millions of sport enthusiasts dedicated to their codes.

Your cooperation and commitment to integrity in sport is vital in keeping sport clean.

I encourage you all to keep up the fight.

Once again, congratulations to you all for your commitment to the integrity of sport and I wish you the best for the remainder of the convention.        


Updated on 10th January 2017