Blog de Matthias Kamber - Australie 2011
Le directeur d’Antidoping Suisse, Matthias Kamber, passe deux mois en Australie. Dans une série informelle et en langue anglaise, il nous tiendra au courant de ses rencontres et de ses expériences auprès de l’Australian Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). Bonne lecture !
This is my last blog from my sabbatical here with ASADA. Tomorrow, I will fly back to Switzerland. It was a great experience to work with this world leading agency, to see behind the scene and to get to know the staff. My report is finished and had been discussed with the top management of ASADA. Time flew really here in Canberra and I felt at ease and was very comfortable. I will certainly miss Canberra, this city with such a striking outset, so much nature and parks, the smell of the gum trees, the open skies and the friendly people. I will miss the staff of ASADA who treated me from the beginning with trust, respect and friendship. I am very grateful that the CEO Aurora Andruska invited me for this project.
What I will not miss however are the swooping magpies and cycling in the heavy traffic of Newcastle Street. I am convinced that ASADA and Antidoping Switzerland will continue to work closely together in the future and I am looking forward to this.
I had the opportunity to visit an out-of-competition test session with urine and blood. The procedure was quite similar with our procedures. The main difference is that blood collecting with ASADA is outsourced to a private company that provides the blood collection personnel, the correct transportation as well as the analysis of the blood parameters.
It was the second long weekend with Monday off. I have been invited for a fishing trip down to the coast. We stayed near Bermagui, a small town south-east of Canberra. There are really beautiful and secluded beaches in the region of the Sapphire Coast in New South Wales. I definitely have to come back to spend some holidays here. However, the weather was partly cloudy with frequent changes between rain showers and sunny skies. It was hard to be at the beach on Sunday morning six o'clock because it was cold and windy……. But it was worthwhile: each of the four of us caught an Australian Salmon - they tasted delicious! Sitting around an open fire in the evenings was fun as well. Talking and doing some wise cracking about special so-called things in Australia like clangorous, swooping magpies or drop-bears (1) and the largest Australian bat (2).
(1) Nocturnal, the size of a Koala Bear, sitting in trees and preferably drop on tourists
(2) The cricket bat :)
My sabbatical leave will be over in two weeks. Time goes fast. I am working hard on my last part of the project. The first three parts are already done and now for a critical check with the CEO of ASADA. I still work on the last part about a possible quality assessment of National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs). I hope to push our approach and propositions as far as possible in order to hand it over to a new association of NADOs for further refinement. It would be ideal if this new association was the future owner of this method of valuation and use it for the quality assessment of national anti-doping programs.
It was a long weekend with Monday off. I went by bike to the campus of the Australian National University (ANU), situated on the foot of the Black Mountain. ANU has only been established by a Parliament’s Act in 1946 but is ranked as the best university in Australia. As everywhere in Canberra, there is a lot of green parks between the buildings. Don’t expect “Ivy League” type of buildings, here the buildings are new and some of them are unique in architecture and style. I especially liked the John Curtin School of Medical Research building, a modern and generous building with wall panels showing the double DNA strand. But one can also find several sculptures on the grounds. I was especially attracted by the calm beauty of a small sculpture of Saraswati, the Indian Goddess of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, relaxing in her watery surrounds, reading a book.
2 October 2011
We changed this weekend to summer time. Daylight Saving Time as it is called here is more appropriate: Sunday started bright but cool and in the afternoon we had cold rain most of the time. It was the Sunday of the Grand Final of Australian’s National Rugby League in Sydney. I have been invited to Paul (ASADA's Dir. Investigation & Intelligence) for a BBQ and to watch the live coverage of the final. Paul has on his property a “Men’s Cave”: A one room building equipped with all the nice things to watch Sports channels (including a huge screen on the wall), some sports equipment, a toilet and a shower; and of course with a fridge for the beer. Men say here, such a “Cave” should be mentioned compulsory in the building regulations…….
It was a very nice afternoon with a tough game, which the Sea Eagles won against the Warriors 24 to 10.
26 September 2011
Spring is coming slowly. The mornings are still around freezing point but temperatures rise up till 20° during day. And the days are getting longer. Since I miss my bikes, I decided to buy a second hand bike in the big bike shop around the corner. Of course, I bought a helmet as well (a new one). Here, bicycles are called Push-Bikes or Pushy because one often sees cyclists pushing their bikes crossing the streets on pedestrian lines. But, I certainly want to push my bike as little as possible…..
I can use a bike path from hotel to office and back that follows the eastern part of the lake Burley Griffin through very nice wetlands. Unfortunately, I also have to drive on a two lane main street without bike path. This is quite dangerous. But today I found out that nature is dangerous as well: I always wondered why some cyclist wore strange helmets with long spikes reaching out more than 20 cm (they look like punks). But now, I know, because I have been attacked several times by a swooping magpie, also called “Killer Magpies”. It seems that this is a major problem for children, pedestrians and cyclist. There even exists some applied research to help us cyclists to survive:
http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/bike-helmet-vs-magpie/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wHreVKgOT4
23 September 2011
Antidoping Switzerland changed its organizational structure beginning of this year to be prepared for the new Sports law that should come into force around mid-year 2012. We have formed a small unit “Intelligence” that will closely work together with the testing team. At ASADA, the unit “Intelligence and Investigation” is well established and functional. I had the opportunity to read the intelligence report from last year. It is impressive, how the team is putting together findings, knowledge and experience from different sources to form a picture of possible doping use in different sports. Intelligence has to be independent and has a purely supporting function: it assesses the problem, reports likelihoods and helps make decisions for different units like testing, investigation or education. I would like to have someone from ASADA’s team to come to Europe and to give an international course on intelligence and investigation.
17 September 2011
I had the opportunity to visit the famous Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) here in Canberra. The AIS is the “counterpart” of the Federal Sport Highschool in Magglingen and its sport science department. The deputy director Phil Borgeaud, an Australian with Swiss roots in Lausanne, showed me the facilities. The AIS is situated on about 6 hectares and is Australia’s top sports training institute. Here, a combination of modern facilities, world renowned sports science, top coaches and sports medicine services can help high performance athletes to achieve their aims. The AIS offers 36 sport programs in 26 sports, 700 athletes scholarships are offered annually by the AIS. Over one million of interested public are visiting the AIS annually.
I was impressed by the facilities and mostly interested in the sport sciences department. Australian scientists were among the leaders when it comes to the development of blood profiles. Therefore, the measurement of blood parameters, blood volume (CO rebreathing method) as well as altitude training is widely applied at the AIS. There are five altitude rooms and one kitchen / living room that can individually be programmed to different altitudes for training regimes like “living high, training low”.
Other impressive facilities are a 110m tunnel, equipped with state of the art force plates and high speed cameras for biomechanics measurements, the huge strength and conditioning room (see photo) and the Olympic size swimming pool.
11 September 2011
I like Canberra. Although it is a city, within a short drive I can be out in the country as well. First, I started eastwards to Bungendore where an excellent wood works gallery with high quality products can be visited. I continued further north to Goulburn, afterwards west to Yass which is a small town with a main street lined with houses and shops that looks exactly like some the towns in the mid-west of the United States. It was a nice drive through a slightly hilly landscape with cattle and sheep grazing and I could read signs like “Dog Trap Road”.
Another trip worth mentioning took me south-west to the Tidbinbilla nature reserve. I spent several hours walking around in the park. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any Koala bears but many kangaroos instead, some even with their baby inside the pouch.
8 September 2011
I had the opportunity of getting a profound insight into the areas of legal and governance, testing, and education. It feels really great how people treat me here: They always take the time to answer my questions and to explain the regulations and their activities.
Here are some of my impressions, during my second week with ASADA:
The responsible for Governance not only has to check if all the different governmental regulations are fulfilled but she is also responsible for the ISO 9001 regulations. It seems that ASADA’s quality management is much more extensive and complex than Antidoping Switzerland’s. I will have a closer look into the current map of processes later.
Testing procedures with ASADA are similar to the test distribution plans and test assignments of Antidoping Switzerland. However, ASADA has implemented two specialties for target tests called “Blitz” and “Floods” which seems to be an interesting approach to me.
I was impressed by the education team and their work. ASADA runs a very comprehensive education program based on the four pillars “analysis”, “design”, “delivery” and “evaluation”. The whole curriculum is online and has been introduced in November 2010. It has been designed with the intention that all users have to pass the same content but in different levels of depth. I especially like the idea about the “professor” who guides through the curriculum. It can be found on ASADA’s website www.asada.gov.au under “Education”.
As explained before, ASADA has been created through a legal act in 2006. The Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority Act 2006 and its regulations define the responsibilities in anti-doping in Australia. As I understood it, all decisions within any governmental agency are in the final responsibility of the specific agency’s CEO. Therefore, it is defined that ASADA consists of the CEO and ASADA staff. In the following article of the act is then stated that “The ASADA’s function is to assist the CEO in the performance of his or her functions”. This approach is very interesting but unusual for me as a Swiss. I could already hear the response of my staff if I were to proclaim such a statement in our organization…
6 September 2011
It was a great honor to be part of a meeting between ASADA’s senior staff and Australia’s Minister for Sport the Honourable Mark Arbib. I’ve had the chance to give a summary on our experiences with blood testing and blood profiling in Switzerland.
4 September 2011
The “Parliamentarian Triangle” lies very close to my hotel, so I spent my first weekend exploring this area and the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. Almost 100 years ago, Canberra’s founders decided to build the Australia’s future capital in a beautiful landscape setting. And it is truly like this! Canberra lies amidst hills, parks and water. I could feel the open space to breathe.
I started with the new Parliament House on top of the Capital Hill. A remarkable nice construction, built from Australian material: different types of stone and wood. The rooftop provides a sweeping view of a huge triangle, composed of the two main streets starting from the Capital Hill and ending with bridges at the north shore of the lake. Within this triangle the Old Parliament House, the National Library, the High Court of Australia, the National Gallery and several other landmarks and monuments are situated.
One of the monuments is the Magna Carta Monument, a symbol of the special relationship between the Australian and the British people. I was impressed by the omnipresence of the Magna Carta: besides the monument, an original copy of the Carta is on display in the Parliament House. This ancient document, first drafted in 1215 in England, is the first document that describes the idea of a government under law, due process of law and respect for the rights and duties of citizens. Hence, this document is the base of modern democracy and its omnipresence is well deserved.
2 September 2011
The first week with ASADA is going to end. I’ve already had the possibility to have longer talks with the COO, the CFO and the Head of Intelligence. One of the questions we have in common is the price model for user paid tests. Should a price model recovering all the costs (including infrastructure and overhead) be applied or should the price cover the direct costs of sample collection and analysis only? For the moment, Antidoping Switzerland and ASADA are applying a price model that does not compensate all costs. Due to the fact that both organizations were set up to serve sports this model was chosen. It should also encourage sport federations or event organizers to run more tests. Should tax money also be used to subsidize such tests in professional sports? I don’t think so. In this case, full cost recovery prices should be applied. Eventually, professional sports should be invited to further negotiations in order to convince them that having clean professional sport would be in their best interest.
I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a meeting with ASADA’s external Audit Committee. All governmental agencies, such as ASADA, are required by law to operate such a committee. The Audit Committee meets four times a year and is mainly looking into financial matters. For an agency like ASADA - that is much smaller than most other governmental agencies - this obligation is committing resources and imposes additional administrative burden. In Switzerland, we try not to commit that many resources into auditing and controlling and I am glad that we have it this way.
On the other hand, one experience was very helpful: The Australian government has prepared guidelines of “best practice” for such audits. Eventually, these guidelines could be used as a model for future audits among national anti-doping organizations with regard to an international rating and benchmarking.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
I've just arrived in Canberra, in order to spend a sabbatical with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) for two months.
The main purpose of this visit is comparing the two organizations - ASADA and Antidoping Switzerland. As a result, I would like to find out which key performance indices could be developed that measure the performance and the quality of a national anti-doping organization (NADO). Such an outcome would contribute to further development of the overall quality of NADOs worldwide.
My reception at ASADA has been very friendly and well organized. Hotel and car were ready, as well as an office with computer and my own ASADA e-mail address. I immediately had the feeling of being a part of ASADA!
The first impression of ASADA is really overwhelming: Not only is ASADA the biggest NADO worldwide but also does it cover one of the largest areas. In addition, many Australian top level athletes are training and competing outside of the country. Therefore, the whole organization can't just operate on a domestic base but must also collaborate heavily in an international framework.
With about 65 staff in the ASADA office, this organization is certainly more complex and more complicated to guide than Antidoping Switzerland with 11 staff in Ittigen. In Switzerland meetings can easily be organized and decisions been made on the spot. But for ASADA it takes up much more effort and resources to do the same.
Furthermore, due to the fact that ASADA is part of the Australian government, it also has to follow some guiding principles. First, there is the annuality of its finances that makes it more difficult to form financial reserves. Second, collective work agreements have to be negotiated which also include rounds of bargaining with the stakeholders. Third, ASADA has to adhere to the guidelines of the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct. All this makes the processes more formal.
Tomorrow I will be able to start the interviews with key staff. I am looking forward to learning more about ASADA during the next weeks.