AAA AustralianAthletesAssociation

The Australian Athletes Association (“AAA”) is the peak body representing the interests of professional Australian athletes.  AAA’s members include athlete and player associations in the following sports; cricket, AFL, rugby union, rugby league, football, netball and swimming.  Collectively, AAA’s members represent over 2000 of Australia’s elite athletes.

The AAA has been created by Australia’s leading players’ associations to provide a unified voice for Australian athletes.  The AAA formalizes the close cooperation these associations have enjoyed for many years.

The AAA is justifiably proud of Australia’s tremendous record in sport and the example set by athletes on and off the field.  Australian athletes wish to adopt a leadership position within society to combat the broader social issue of illicit drug use in society.

AAA Chair Tony Dempsey said athletes represented by AAA were committed to playing their role in tackling the scourge of illicit drug use.


“Our athletes want to work with sporting bodies, government and experts in health, medicine and drug prevention to join forces and present a strong fight against drugs.”


“Illicit drug use is incompatible with elite sports performance and a healthy and productive lifestyle.”


“However, this issue is complex, as evidenced by the difficulties society as a whole is having in responding to drug use in society.  Accordingly, a reasoned approach that meets the needs of each sport is required. “


The AAA has adopted the following policy position in relation to the issue of illicit drug policy development in sport:


  1. The AAA supports the rights and interests of sporting organisations, in partnership with their athletes, to introduce strategies and policies to discourage and respond to illicit drug use within their sports.  These may involve out of competition testing for illicit drugs.


  1. The AAA considers that a one-size-fits-all policy response to the issue of illicit drug use fails to recognise the complexity of both this issue and the nature of the Australian sporting industry.


  1. The AAA advocates that any strategies or policies developed by sporting organisations and their athletes should focus on the issue of illicit drug use from an athlete welfare (as opposed to punitive) perspective.  Appropriate deterrents may be built into a policy provided an athlete is firstly afforded access to education, counselling, rehabilitation and expert medical based interventions.


  1. Sporting rules should always be subject to athletes’ civil rights which must be preserved at all times.


  1. Legislative protections should be introduced to penalise persons or organisations in breach of security protocols protecting athlete’s personal records or seek to publish the same.


  1. Athletes should be treated equally in the context of testing pools and responses – regardless of talent, experience, salary or team.
  2. Sports should only consider introducing an illicit drugs policy where they have the expertise and resources to effectively implement a comprehensive policy.  At a minimum, this requires the ability to resource not only testing, but also:


  • education programs;
  • counselling and rehabilitation services;
  • expert medical care and intervention; and
  • to protect and enforce security and confidentiality.


  1. Government funding of illicit drug policy should not be at the expense of the core funding of sports.


The AAA and its member associations look forward to playing a leadership role in this area.  By working together, sport has a unique opportunity to develop a carefully planned approach that may help lead broader society to a future free from drugs.

The athlete representative bodies in attendance at today’s press conference were:

Tony Dempsey – CEO, Rugby Union Players’ Association
Brendon Gale– CEO, AFL Players’ Association
Paul Marsh – CEO, Australian Cricketers’ Association
Matt Rodwell – CEO, Rugby League Players’ Association
Brendan Schwab – CEO, Professional Footballers’ Association
Regan Sterry– General Manager, Australian Swimmers’ Association
John-Paul Blandthorn – Australian Netball Players’ Association