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Basketbrawl sparks push for National Sport Integrity Unit

A series of “ugly” incidents involving Australia’s national sports teams has sparked calls for a National Sport Integrity Unit.

Australian hero John Bertrand AO, who skippered Australia II to victory in the 1983 America’s Cup and is now Chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, said Australia’s national image has taken a hit in recent months.

Mr Bertrand blames incidents like the ball-tampering scandal and the brawl between Australian and Philippines basketball players in Manila for Australia’s reputation of playing hard but fair taking a hit.

“[The brawl] was ugly. It was ugly for this country and it was ugly for the world,” Mr Bertrand told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin

“There’s always pressure, whether it’s local or World Championships. If you can shake your opponent’s hand, look him or her in the eye and shake with all conviction, then that’s the be all and end all,” he said.

A review into the crisis of Australia’s sporting integrity will be released in coming months, with momentum growing behind a push to help the governing bodies deal with issues of conduct and integrity.

Under the plan, backed by Australian Sports Commission boss Kate Palmer, former head of WADA David Howman and Olympic gold medalist Steve Hooker, the new National Integrity Body would oversee all the existing integrity units within the various codes, making itself available for consultation or advice.

It is hoped a new body could make up for a lack of resources or know-how by helping manage issues of integrity within a governing body’s own walls. Doping scandals, bullying claims or general bad behaviour could all be dealt with by the new body.

“Having a national resource where the smaller sporting federations could draw on that expertise would be of great value. There’s no question, because the smaller federations get inundated from time to time and there’s just no expertise within,” Bertrand said.

“The majority of the Olympic sports just don’t have the size to be able to have an integrity team within,” he said.

Click below to hear the full interview

Cam Reddin