Applicant v State Motorcycling Association (with Motorcycling Australia)

Application to overturn suspension of an athlete for use of medicinal cannabis.


Applicant v State Motorcycling Association (with Motorcycling Australia)

Matter number:
Date of decision:
Dispute type:
Disciplinary dispute
Dispute resolution method:

The Applicant is a motorcyclist and a member of a State Motorcycling Association (SMA). In 2022, during a SMA event, the Applicant failed a random drug test and was suspended from competition pursuant to Motorcycling Australia’s (MA) Drug & Alcohol Policy and Testing Procedures (the Drug & Alcohol Policy). Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous sport and the Drug & Alcohol Policy acts to provide additional safeguards for athletes in the sport and to reduce the likelihood of damage to property and equipment. The Drug & Alcohol Policy is complementary to the sport’s Anti-Doping Policy which deals with performance enhancing drugs. 

As required by the Drug & Alcohol Policy, the Applicant sought to have the suspension lifted and provided a pathology report in support. The report revealed the presence of cannabis metabolites, a different drug to that which was identified by the initial random drug test and, as a result, the SMA refused to lift the suspension. The Applicant contended that the SMA had erred in its application of the Drug & Alcohol Policy, arguing the cannabis was medicinally prescribed and lawfully consumed.

A Notice of Dispute was filed under the MA Non-NIF Complaints and Dispute Resolution Policy (CDRP), and MA referred the matter to the National Sports Tribunal (NST) for arbitration in accordance with clause 22 of the CDRP. The matter proceeded in the General Division of the NST before a sole arbitrator.

The NST Member considered submissions from the parties regarding the facts, application of the Drug & Alcohol Policy, and the potential application of disability discrimination legislation.  The NST Member found that the SMA had not erred in its application of the Drug & Alcohol Policy. Despite the cannabis being lawfully prescribed and consumed by the Applicant, the substance remains a ‘Prohibited Substance’ as defined by the Drug & Alcohol Policy, for reasons of safety in motorcycle racing. Motorcycling is a sport in which impaired capacities could have particularly serious consequences. 

The NST therefore determined that the Applicant had not satisfied the requirements for his suspension to be lifted. The Drug & Alcohol Policy also requires completion of a drug counselling program in order for a suspension to be lifted and it was acknowledged by the Applicant that this requirement had not yet been met. The application was dismissed.