A new era within sports – Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission to be established

4 Apr 2023
Author: Andrea Twaddle

A significant step towards establishing the Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission took place this month, with the Integrity Sport and Recreation Bill passing its first reading in Parliament. The legislation is a critical piece of work being delivered by the Integrity Sport and Recreation Establishment Board. It responds to a series of critical reviews into some of New Zealand’s elite sporting environments in respect of athlete wellbeing and safety.[1]

The Commission would be a new independent Crown entity. Its purpose would be to prevent threats to the integrity of sport, such as competition manipulation, the use of prohibited substances, bullying and harassment, discrimination, corruption, and fraud. It would also be responsible for promoting and protecting the safety and wellbeing of participants in New Zealand's sport and recreation sector.

Key functions of the Commission would include: providing guidance and education to the sport and recreation sector and engaging with participants on integrity issues (including providing policies and procedures for complaints managements and dispute resolution); and establishing integrity codes, investigating breaches of codes and other threats of integrity.

It is intended that a national Code of Integrity will be an enforceable document setting out an overarching set of minimum standards that must be met by sports organisations. This is to address concern that the sports sector has had a lack of capability to deal with integrity issues adequately and independently, particularly in relation to reporting and management of complaints. The new structure is designed to enable participants and sports to be assisted when dealing with a wellbeing issue.  

Although the Commission’s core role will be to provide education and advice, it will also provide a complaint and dispute resolution services for participants in sport and recreation, and will investigate breaches of integrity standards. The Commission will also become responsible for parts of the existing sport and recreation integrity landscape, including Drug Free Sport New Zealand and Sport New Zealand’s integrity functions (i.e. implementing the World Anti-Doping Code and creating sports anti-doping rules), as well as the current complaints and mediation mechanism. 

Submissions on the Bill are able to be made to the Social Services and Community Select Committee until 3 May 2023. The Bill proposes that the Act (if passed) would be brought into force no later than 1 July 2024.

For advice in relation to sports law matters, contact DTI Lawyers Director, Andrea Twaddle on 07 282 0174 or andrea@dtilawyers.co.nz.


[1] In response to the 2018 Sport Integrity Review, an independent Integrity Working Group was set up with the purpose to evaluate options and recommend to the Sport New Zealand Board and Minister of Sport and Recreation, the most appropriate institutional arrangements and structures to manage integrity elements across the system. Further, to accommodate recommendations from the Integrity Review once implemented.

[2] Since this article was published, the Select Committee has released its Report (4 August 2023), recommending that the Bill be passed, with all amendments recommended unanimously. The Bill will proceed to the House for its second reading.

A new era within sports – Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission to be established
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a member of the national Law Society Employment Law Reform Committee, a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a sought-after commentator and speaker on employment law issues at client and industry seminars. She provides specialist, strategic advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at andrea@dtilawyers.co.nz