Member v Member (with Paddle Australia)

Alleged breach of Paddle Australia’s Competition, Manipulation and Sports Gambling Policy.

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

Paddle Australia (PA), the body responsible for governing the sport within Australia, referred this dispute to the National Sports Tribunal (NST) in accordance with its Complaints, Disputes and Discipline Policy. The Applicant to the dispute alleged the Respondent had breached PA’s Competition, Manipulation and Sports Gambling Policy (CMSGP).

The Applicant holds several roles within the wider community of the sport and it was evident that a number of his roles were relevant to the dispute. Most pertinently, the Applicant was the father of a competitor (the Athlete) at the National Wildwater Championships (the Championships) which took place on 4-5 March 2023. The Respondent is also an active member of PA, in this instance he was involved as a volunteer to assist in officiating the Championships in the capacity of chief starter and compiler of results, he was also father to another competitor involved in the Championships.

The Applicant alleged the Respondent, in his volunteer roles and due to his child’s participation in the Championships, breached clause 4.1(a)(i) of the CMSGP by: (a) not allowing the Athlete in the sprint race sufficient time to recover, thereby intentionally creating an unfair advantage for his own son; and (b) falsifying results to ensure his son was the tied winner, when he should have placed second. The NST accepted submissions and evidence from the Applicant, Respondent and PA, the matter was heard and determined on the papers by a sole NST Member. As a consequence of submissions made throughout the proceedings by the Respondent, the Applicant withdrew allegation (b). The Applicant acknowledged the Respondent had made an error in compiling the results, and upon realising his error, sought to make the necessary corrections required to rectify the matter. As this allegation was withdrawn, it was not addressed in the merits of the NST’s determination.

In respect of allegation (a), the Applicant based his assertion on the Athlete not being provided sufficient time to recover after abandoning his race due to a capsized boat. Submissions indicated that, having received mixed instructions from the Respondent, the Applicant and another official of the Championships, the Athlete made the decision to do his re-run immediately. The Applicant submitted the Athlete was only advised of his entitlement to choose whether to go immediately, or to wait to do his re-run at the end, after being incorrectly advised that he must do it immediately. The Applicant provided a witness statement from the Athlete in which he acknowledged it was a foolish decision to do his re-run immediately, the stress he was under and the disappointment from having to abandon his race contributed to this decision.

Ultimately, the NST found the Athlete, as an adult and experienced competitor, had the ability and full capacity to make the decision to do his re-run immediately. The NST assessed allegation (a) to be based on a series of assumptions or inferences by the Applicant about the Respondent’s state of mind including awareness of various results and an intention to create an unfair advantage for his own son by requiring an immediate re-run. The NST found there was no evidence to support these assumptions and inferences.

Accordingly, the NST determined the allegation is to be dismissed.

The NST did note that there is no specific rule for re-runs at whitewater events and in saying so, it would be beneficial for the orderly conduct of these events if in future the rules were amended to ensure that any re-run should occur at the end of the current race, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which dictate otherwise.