It is widely accepted that the directors on the board of a State Sporting Organisation (SSO) or State Sporting Organisation for people with disabilities (SSOD) together with their respective executive team (if any) are the leaders of that organisation. Those persons are responsible for setting the culture of the SSO through their leadership style and through adopting and promoting a position of integrity for the SSO.
Each board should ensure and actively promote ethical behaviour and decision-making within its organisation. Good corporate governance ultimately requires people with integrity and leadership to ensure that the reputation of an organisation is managed, protected and enhanced.
A culture of integrity and ethical behaviour is characterised by:
- an effective code of conduct
- quality decision-making processes
- people of the highest integrity and ethical standards
- an intent to put the organisation ahead of individual gains.
The SSO and its board have a major obligation to protect and maintain the integrity of its sport as well as the health and wellbeing of its stakeholders.
The SSO and its board should commit to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour in all of its activities, and to promoting and supporting a culture of honest and ethical behaviour both on-field and off-field, corporate compliance and good corporate governance.
Integrity in sport encompasses all of the elements needed to preserve what is intrinsically valuable about sport and to uphold the principles of fairness, respect, responsibility and safety. The main policy elements for this include Anti-Doping, Match Fixing and Member Protection, as well as reporting conduct that may prejudice the SSO or Sport or bring either or both of them into disrepute.
The SSO board must enforce its rules and the rules of the sport fairly but in the best interests of the Sport and its stakeholders.
Boards must act always act with the utmost integrity, where fair, honest, respectful and safe values are entrenched in your leadership and actions.
Importantly, boards are responsible for leading and inspiring the exact same values throughout their sport.
Like a board that lacks integrity, a sport lacking integrity – that is, is not fair, honest, respectful or safe in some way - is a risk to members, community, reputation and the overall value of sport.
Boards have a responsibility to maintain integrity in their sport. This includes identifying and proactively managing integrity risks. This can include threats to:
Fair and honest sport performance – for example, doping, supplement use, match fixing and corruption
Positive sporting experiences – for example, issues relating to member protection matters (e.g.. bullying, harassment, discrimination), child protection, illicit drugs and player welfare.
“A key approach to proactively protecting your sport from integrity threats is to encourage strong ethical values from participants and develop sound organisational cultures that encourage transparency, honesty and consistency.”
Building and protecting integrity in sport requires:
- Leading by example
- Positive culture, values and ethics
- Risk management
- Understanding of legislative requirements
- Good systems, including policies, codes of conduct, rules and procedures
- Ongoing education, training and communication
- Ongoing review and monitoring.
It is important to fully understand what is already in place within your sport – existing integrity related policy, practises and initiatives – at a national and/or international level.
Sporting organisations are encouraged to have an integrity framework in place to deal with integrity threats. The components of an effective framework could include policy and education initiatives in areas including:
- Child Safeguarding
- Complaints and Discipline
- Integrity Code of Conduct
- Illicit Drugs (optional)
- Member Protection
- Sports Science and Sports Medicine
Sport Integrity Australia’s National Integrity Framework provides further guidance.
Boards should stay well informed of integrity matters, committing to:
- Personally undertake ongoing education and training
- Promote education and training throughout your sport.
There resources to support this, listed below. It is also important to network with and connect with key sport integrity related agencies.
Sport Integrity Australia
Training, resources , advice and report concerns
National Sports Tribunal
Dispute resolution services for sporting bodies, athletes and support personnel
Play by the Rules
Online training courses and resources
Safe, ethical and inclusive sport guidance
For resources by topic area, go to our Integrity Resource Directory