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Optional integrity tribunal could overrule on-field suspensions

Serious on-field incidents like Andrew Gaff’s punch and Billy Slater’s shoulder charge could end up at the new government-funded National Sports Tribunal.

The tribunal, announced this week, will have the power to overrule penalties handed down by existing disciplinary bodies within the respective codes, if the AFL, NRL and others choose to opt-in.

Participation in the new National Sports Tribunal will not be mandatory, meaning the NRL, AFL, Cricket and other codes will decide whether to throw themselves at the Tribunal’s mercy.

Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie told Macquarie Sports Radio it would be “a matter for them” if the codes wanted to opt-in.

If they do, suspensions and other penalties handed down could be taken over the heads of codes’ disciplinary bodies to be dealt with independently.

“They will be able to appeal to the general division, but what it will require is both the sport and the athlete to be bound by the outcome of the tribunal,” Senator McKenzie told Macquarie Sports Radio‘s Cam Reddin.

For example, shoulder charges or high-tackles earning penalties at the AFL or NRL tribunals could be taken to the National Sports Tribunal through appeal.

That means, in theory, if Billy Slater had been rubbed out of last year’s NRL Grand Final, he could have appealed his ban to the new Tribunal, assuming both parties had opted-in, and potentially had the outcome reversed.

Cases like Billy Slater’s shoulder charge could end up before the National Sports Tribunal, if the NRL elects to opt-in. IMG: Getty Images

Ms McKenzie said the new body will also look at “mediation” and “conciliation” on issues relating to the integrity of sport, as designed in consultation with various governing bodies.

“We want something that gives confidence back to the public, confidence back to sports, and confidence back to our athletes that they are going to get a fair trial,” she said.

Anti-doping is the only section of the Tribunal that will be opt-out.

Click below to hear the full interview. Listen to the Weekend Warm-Up with Cam Reddin – 4.00am-7.00am Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Cam Reddin