Randall v Australian Football League and Sport Integrity Australia CEO
The Applicant played Australian Rules Football in the Western Australian Football League. On 24 July2021 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 on 2 September 2021. On 10 January 2022, SIA proposed a sanction of 2 year’s ineligibility from competition under Articles 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 of the AF Code.
The Applicant admitted that he had committed the alleged violation of the AF Code but submitted that the 2 year sanction should be reduced to 18 months, on the bases that it was a substance taken out of competition for non performance enhancement reasons, that he was not a full-time professional player, and that he suffered mental health issues which produced problem-solving deficits and impaired decision making, which justified a reduction of the sanction under Article 10.6.2 on the grounds of “no significant fault or negligence”. The Applicant’s submissions were supported by the AFL but opposed by SIA.
The Panel considered leading CAS cases in relation to “no significant fault or negligence” and noted that the Applicant bore the onus of establishing on the balance of probabilities that he bore no significant fault or negligence. The majority of the Panel found that the fact that he was not a full-time professional footballer does not result in a lowering of the objective standard of reasonableness so as to result in a finding that a person who took no steps whatsoever to discharge their duty is entitled to a reduced suspension period. It found also that whilst it accepted the medical evidence that the Applicant suffered mental health issues, he had not through evidence from a suitably qualified expert, demonstrated that the condition rendered him cognitively impaired so as to adversely affect his ability to comply with his duty of utmost caution, nor that his extreme fatigue at the time impaired his cognitive functioning. Accordingly, there were no grounds to reduce the period of ineligibility.