The committee produced two extensive reports, tabled in June 1989 and May 1990, which recommended measures to prevent and detect the use of sports drugs and restrict their overall availability. The committee also wanted government agencies and sporting bodies to demonstrate a commitment to prevent the use of drugs.
The government’s immediate response to the first report—subsequently described as the inquiry’s ‘most significant outcome’—was to establish the Australian Sports Drug Testing Agency. Additional recommendations accepted by the government after the tabling of the second report included restrictions upon the importation of particular drugs for personal use, random testing of athletes outside of competition events and the criminalisation of anabolic steroid use.
The Senate inquiry also acted as a catalyst for the 1990 creation of the International Anti-Doping Arrangement which led to the international standardisation of anti-doping procedures.
Senator John Black chaired the Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts during the inquiry period. Black, who had referred the matter to the committee, came to national attention during extensive media coverage of the highly controversial inquiry. A number of Black’s fellow state and federal Labor parliamentarians publicly criticised the committee’s acceptance of unsubstantiated evidence, with one comparing his inquiry to a ‘McCarthyist witch-hunt’.
A year after his March 1990 election defeat, Black remarked that ‘chairing a committee on one of the last sacred cows in Australia—sport—and exposing the morals of sports people for what they are ... was not a great boost to my political career’.
Leading up to and during the inquiry, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) was hit hard by allegations of collusion in the procurement and administration of drugs, particularly in relation to weightlifting and track and field.
In its 1989 report, the committee found that ‘in many ways the AIS drug testing program was worse than having no drug testing programs at all’. Unsurprisingly, the committee’s conclusions about the conduct of the AIS led to accusations of reputational damage.
John Bloomfield, chairman of the AIS from 1985 to 1989, wrote in 2003 that the committee ‘appeared to take a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ stance, making it very difficult for the AIS to receive a fair hearing, as some politically ambitious senators on the committee seemed more interested in attracting headlines than in conducting an impartial inquiry’.