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Blog: Team England Chef de Mission Sarah Winckless looks back on the 2018 Commonwealth Games

As Chef de Mission of Team England I felt I was both well prepared and hugely well supported by the expertise that I was able to access from the UKAD staff.

Pre-Games, we arranged Chef Team training which we worked with the other home nations to ensure that we were thinking through, and preparing for scenarios. It was hugely reassuring to be sitting next to my Chief Medical Officer, who having been at the coal face of performance sport, was able to share experiences he’d had and dealt with in the past.

We were all challenged by the late publication of the anti-doping standards, and the Games Whereabouts system, however whilst these created some uncertainty I felt well equipped to support my team once they were finalised.

On the ground, with a big team across three locations, we observed that the Commonwealth Games Federation appeared to have done some UK-based testing once their jurisdiction started, before focussing on Games testing, which started across all sites and coincided with the village opening.

Getting feedback from the athletes, more than 35% reported that they did something differently due to the UKAD training series that they’d received. Although half way across the world, and away from their normal support networks, with the organising committee potentially concentrating on non-ADAMS athletes, I did wonder how we could better prepare those who had never been tested before.

It was good to get back and share my experience with the Athlete Commission and particularly to hear Callum Skinner and Ali Jawad’s observations of the testing at the Games.

The Commission met at Loughborough as part of Clean Sport Week, and we were joined by Adam Pengilly of the WADA Athlete Commission and representatives of the British Olympic Association Athlete Commission and the British Athletes Commission. Alongside debriefing the Major Games and pre-Games education, we had a lively discussion on UKAD strategy, the Berlinger testing kits, WADA ISE, penalties for athletes who are caught and the WADA code review.

We also delved into the proposed WADA Charter of Athlete Rights, which got Ali and Callum thinking. These two will represent us in Canada, at the WADA Global Athlete Forum when it is discussed.

Our next meeting is in October and we’d love to hear your ideas of hot or current topics that you’d like the Commission to contribute to.

Sarah Winckless MBE

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