“Transparency is the modern way, and sunlight is a great disinfectant.”

So concludes the latest in the series of “Drugs in Sport” articles authored by Henry’s footy muse, Luke Griffiths. Griffiths’ belief is that, although the AFL’s drug testing may indeed be world class, they do not demonstrate that this is the case.

In an effort to verify drug testing figures quoted by the AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, Luke contacted the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency — the government body that conducts drug tests for the AFL — but was met with a wall of silence:

As you are aware, ASADA does conduct a drug testing program for the AFL throughout the year. However, this testing is carried out under contract, and as such, the confidentiality provisions of the contract do not allow ASADA to disseminate the drug testing details that you seek, to the general public.

Henry has long called for more transparency in Australian political and economic culture. In a blog from earlier in the year, Henry argued that the Reserve Bank of Australia should be more open and direct in its communication.

The US Federal Open Market Committee’s overnight decision to leave interest rates at 5.25% serves as a reminder of how the RBA lags behind the Fed in terms of transparency.

Accompanying the decision was a three paragraph statement proclaiming that the Fed is maintaining their bias for tightening in the face of “elevated inflation”. When the RBA leaves the cash rate unchanged, the RBA don’t release a statement, meaning that investors, economists and other interested parties have to glean information from other, perhaps less reliable sources.

Transparency is central to any democracy. While its central purpose, as in the case of AFL drug testing, is to increase accountability and thus decrease corrupt activities, it is quite obvious that increased transparency acts as an effective form of regulation.

For example, many economists have blamed the distinct lack of transparency in the Asian “tiger” economies for the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s. While that may be a stretch, it is obvious that it would not have been as severe, nor would it have lasted as long, had the Asian tigers been more transparent.

Transparency enables participation in the political and economic processes by the public and the media, which is the cornerstone of democracy. Information on all topics, from the economy to drug testing our sporting heroes, should be available to all from our beloved leaders to Joe Blow on the street. Without it there is no effective deterrent to corruption.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW