UKAD has told athletes to "feel confident" about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine ©Getty Images

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has told athletes they "should feel confident" receiving a vaccine for COVID-19 without breaching the World Anti-Doping Code.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) clarified last week that there is "no reason to believe" COVID-19 vaccines would break anti-doping rules.

This came after UKAD head of science and medicine Nick Wojek was criticised by athletes for releasing a statement saying the organisation was awaiting further updates from WADA before advising athletes on the anti-doping status of the vaccines. 

Wojek has now released a new statement.

"We welcome the statement made by WADA regarding their position on COVID-19 vaccines," he said. 

"UK athletes should feel confident that they will not be in breach of the World Anti-Doping Code if they receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

"The health and wellbeing of athletes is of primary importance to us and we understand the deployment of new vaccines will raise questions from athletes. 

"We will continue to liaise with WADA so that athletes continue to receive the assurances they need about the anti-doping status of new vaccines as they are approved for use."

WADA has said it does not believe a COVID-19 vaccine would break anti-doping rules ©Getty Images
WADA has said it does not believe a COVID-19 vaccine would break anti-doping rules ©Getty Images

The United Kingdom began a rollout of a coronavirus vaccine at the start of December after UK regulators became the first to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Around 800,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to be dispensed in the coming weeks.

Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers are listed as the top priority for vaccines in the UK, while people over 80 years of age and frontline health and social care workers are listed as the second priority.

Clinically vulnerable Paralympians are likely to be offered the vaccine soon as the UK works through its priority list.

Seven-time Para-swimming world champion Tully Kearney was among those to criticise Wojek's initial statement. 

"I'm actually shocked being in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' group and likely to be called for vaccination soon that this has not been dealt with sooner," she wrote on social media. 

"So do I risk potential serious illness/death from COVID or a doping ban and miss out on going to Tokyo?!?!"