Appeal - Randall v Australian Football League and Sport Integrity Australia CEO
The Appellant played Australian Rules Football in the Western Australian Football League. On 24 July 2021 he underwent an in-competition anti-doping test under the Australian Football Anti-Doping Code 2021 (AF Code). The sample returned an adverse analytical finding for the substance Phentermine, being a non-specified stimulant, prohibited in competition, but not out of competition. He was provisionally suspended and SIA proposed a sanction of 2 year’s ineligibility from competition under Articles 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 of the AF Code, on the basis that it accepted that the violation was not intentional under Article 10.2.3.
The Appellant did not dispute that he had committed a violation of the AF Code, but applied to the Anti-Doping Division of the NST seeking that the 2 year sanction be reduced to 18 months under Article 10.6.2 of the AF Code on the grounds of “no significant fault or negligence”. The Anti-Doping Division found no evidence which would support the reduction of the period of eligibility (Case number NST-E22-124881).
The Appellant appealed to the NST Appeals Division.
The Panel considered the jurisdiction that it had to consider this fresh or new evidence, which was not provided to the Anti-Doping Division panel, in the light of Article 13.1 of the AF Code and section 95(2) and (3) of the National Sports Tribunal (Practice and Procedure) Determination 202.
The Appeals Division Panel reviewed the CAS decisions relating to the objective and subjective bases of the degrees of fault under Article 10.6.2, and the sanctions that may be applied in the case of the various degrees of fault. The Panel was of the view that a young, inexperienced athlete is not absolved from taking any steps whatsoever to ensure the substance he is taking is not prohibited, and that the Appellant identified no steps to discharge his duty, but that the fresh medical evidence did satisfy the burden on him to establish that his mental condition rendered him cognitively impaired so as to adversely affect his ability to comply with his duty of utmost caution, and his ability to think rationally and exercise judgement was compromised. The compromise provided the necessary causal link justifying a finding of no significant fault or negligence.
The Panel found that the objective circumstances of the case showed a high degree of fault, but the subjective circumstances led to a conclusion that a period of ineligibility of between 20-24 months was appropriate. A period of ineligibility of 20 months was imposed.