Exclusive: BOA lifetime doping ban is impeding our work says UKAD chief

Tuesday, 14 December 2010
By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Andy_ParkinsonDecember 14 - Andy Parkinson (pictured), the chief executive of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), has warned that the British Olympic Association's (BOA) lifetime ban on drugs cheats is impeding the battle to stamp out the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) new rule on banning an athlete from competing in the next Games after they have tested positive is also criticised by Parkinson.

He claims that it would be easier if everyone followed the standards set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which have established a two-year suspension as the fairest penalty for an athlete testing positive for banned drugs for the first time.

"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," Parkinson writes in a blog published today on insidethegames to celebrate the first anniversary of UKAD.

"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."

Under the rules of the BOA any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs is automatically prevented from representing Britain in the Olympics.

But Parkinson believes that athletes would be more willing to cooperate with them if there was an incentive for them to be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

"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," he writes.

"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."

By-law 25 has been on the BOA's statute book since 1992, when the then chairman Sir Arthur Gold decided Britain must take the moral high ground in the fight against doping.

The BOA is now the only national Olympic committee to maintain this hard-line stance but have always said it will "vigorously" defend any attempt to remove the anti-doping by-law.

There have been 27 successful appeals against the lifetime ban over the last 18 years - the last being Olympic show jumping silver medallist John Whitaker in March.

Parkinson's view echoes that of Dick Pound, who in 2008 claimed that he did not believe that the BOA rule would survive if it was challenged legally.

It was partially challenged in the courts in July 2008 when Dwain Chambers tried unsuccessfully to get it overturned so he could compete in the Beijing Olympics.

Mr Justice Mackay refused to grant Chambers an injunction to temporarily suspend the lifetime ban before a full hearing.

A full hearing has never taken place.

To read Andy Parkinson's blog click here.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz
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