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David Sharpe To Head New Sport Integrity Agency

David Sharpe has been announced as the first chief executive of new agency, Sport Integrity Australia (SIA), according to The Ticket’s Tracey Holmes.

Sharpe is a former assistant commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, a former rugby league player and soon-to-be-former chief executive of Australia’s anti-doping body, ASADA, when SIA begins operations on July 1.

The SIA will amalgamate ASADA, the National Integrity in Sport Unit, and various functions of Sport Australia, such as child protection, into one body with Sharpe being handed sole discretionary powers.

Federal Sports Minister, Richard Colbeck, told The Ticket, this move is an effort to maintain Australia’s global reputation.

“David comes with very high credentials, both in law enforcement and also in the global world of sports integrity,” Colbeck said.

“David’s done a really good job with ASADA.

“Australia has a very good reputation globally with respect to sports integrity and we wanted that to continue,” he said.

The SIA, as one of the key recommendations of a government-commissioned review into sport integrity arrangements by James Wood, will be working with already established sports integrity units such as those at the NRL and AFL, as well as second or third tier sports and community sport organisations that may be vulnerable.

Sharpe said he believes the biggest threat to sport in Australia is organised crime.

“We’ve seen organised crime set up in this country and they’ll exploit any vulnerability,” Sharpe said.

“They’ll find any mechanism they can that involves making money and they’ll exploit that.

“Sport is one of those, and betting markets in particular, exploiting vulnerable athletes and exposing them.

“That will be one of the priorities, to make sure we support those sports that don’t have the ability or the resources.

“Our role with the sports will be to work with athletes to get them to understand what those threats are because sport has been set upas a form of enjoyment and health and participation.

“You know sport really shouldn’t have to be thinking, ‘organised crime is a problem to us,’ but it is.

“We need to make sure people are aware of that and have the right policies in place to be able to target organised crime and prevent it from coming into their sports,” he said.

As the soon-to-be-former head of ASADA, Sharpe turned the anti-doping agency into one that engages more with athletes through education and welfare programs.

“I see Sport Integrity Australia has a responsibility at all levels of sport from the fans to grassroots participation right through to elite sports,” Sharpe said.

“But as you’ve seen over the last few years with ASADA, it’s had a very heavy focus on education, welfare, mental health aspects of the business and tying them in with the policing style investigations and intelligence operations, they are part and parcel.

“I think Sport Integrity Australia needs to put a ring around sport and athletes to protect them to keep the elements out and use every other capability to educate athletes on what the threats and risks are,” he said.