Andy Parkinson: We have learnt a lot in the first year of UKAD

Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Andy_Parkinson_head_and_shouldersThe first year of UK Anti-Doping has seen significant improvement in the UK's ability to tackle doping in sport.

We have worked in collaboration with partners, including National Governing Bodies, to deliver anti-doping programmes across more than 40 sports and have reached thousands of athletes through our wide-reaching 100% me education programme. Our intelligence function is fully operational, gaining momentum and we are sharing information with law enforcement.

With our developing relationship with law enforcement we are learning new ways in which to address the threat of doping. We are putting in place a system that is flexible, and are changing the way we implement our programmes to give us the best chance of successfully prevent doping, deterring those who might be tempted and ultimately catching those that cross the line.

We are doing things differently and athletes, support personnel and sports should expect our response in 2011 to be similarly unpredictable.

In 2011, we will also need to ensure that all sports in the UK are operating consistently and are compliant with the National Anti-Doping Policy, no matter how big or small. It is our responsibility to ensure the ongoing commitment from government offers value for money and delivers a service to the tax payer that meets government anti-doping policy.

However, the fight against doping cannot be won at a local level but needs to be tackled with a global commitment. We continue to support the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in establishing and implementing worldwide standards to help all nations and sports and have UK representatives on a number of Committees of WADA, including Richard Budget who will chair the Prohibited List Committee and David Millar who has been re-elected on to the Athlete Committee. We will continue to push to ensure our views are heard both through our European forums and directly to WADA.

A worldwide level playing field can only be achieved by harmonisation, which in turn can only be achieved through compromise at the international level. We must never set the bar too low. 

As the cheats, and those around them, become increasingly sophisticated we too must adapt and respond to protect the rights of clean athletes. Our clean athletes expect nothing else.

At a recent meeting of the UK Anti-Doping Athlete Committee the issue of a true global level playing field was raised and it is clear we are not there yet. As we move into a period of review of the World Anti-Doping Code next year, we need to ensure that the framework for anti-doping is simple enough for clean athletes to understand and commit to, sophisticated enough to deter and catch cheats and most importantly is able to be implemented consistently worldwide.

We have seen in the US and also here in the UK how going beyond the anti-doping rules established by WADA creates confusion and impedes our role. The World Anti-Doping Code, agreed at an international level, encourages athletes to provide substantial assistance which can be grounds for a reduction in the sanction period.

If, as is the case with the eligibility rules of the International Olympic Committee and here in the UK the British Olympic Association, we remove all incentives for athletes to share their stories and information with us, then we will continue to struggle to catch those who are supplying performance enhancing substances and often operate on the edges of sport with relative impunity.

It is clear that this is a hard message to get across and to agree on, largely because these eligibility rules are easy to defend, but if we cannot be seen to be working with all athletes, then what hope do we have in really getting to the heart of the doping problem and to those that traffic and supply.

The fight against doping now more than ever requires a mature and coordinated effort to work together. UK Anti-Doping has firmly established itself in our first year and 2011 offers the chance to continue to play a lead role at home and overseas to better protect the rights of athletes to compete in doping-free sport.

Andy Parkinson is the chief executive of UK Anti-Doping. To find out more about the work of UKAD click here
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