UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and British sports have come together to develop information and education programmes to help combat a growing culture of doping among the amateur sections of their sports.
More than 25 National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs), including the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and British Rowing, attended UKAD’s Hot Topics Forum last month, which had a specific focus on amateur sports.
A BBC survey in 2017 highlighted a ‘widespread problem’ of doping in amateur sport. The broadcaster’s State of Sport investigation* found more than a third (35%) of amateur sports people say they personally know someone who has used a Performance Enhancing Drug. Half of amateur athletes interviewed also said they believed performance enhancing substance use to be "widespread".
The Forum gave sports a platform to discuss how to best gather and share relevant research, ways in which to engage the UK network of amateur sports clubs, bespoke methods to deliver direct to athletes, and the merits of education versus testing in amateur sport.
Amanda Hudson, UKAD’s Head of Education and Athlete Support, said: “It’s a vital part of our extensive education strategy to work collaboratively with NGBs and sporting organisations at all levels. We have seen a growing concern from sports about the issues of doping at amateur level, and this focus also forms part of our obligations outlined in UKAD’s new four-year Strategic Plan.
“Having identified threats to the integrity of amateur sports, UKAD decided it was important to focus the latest Hot Topics forum on this area, and establish how best to help address the issues.
“There is a clear appetite from NGBs to educate amateur athletes, which is very encouraging, and UKAD will continue to work closely with sports to develop effective education programmes.”
Gemma Wiggs, Anti-Doping Lead Officer at British Canoeing said: “The Hot Topics Forum was a great event and the opportunity to share best practice and ideas with other stakeholders of clean sport was really useful.
“It is essential that the education of athletes starts as early as possible. All attendees had common challenges in engaging with recreational athletes and support personnel, and the development of shared resources and channels of communication was a strong outcome from the meeting."
UKAD’s Education Services Manager, Colin Allen, said: “Events such as the Hot Topics Forum are one of the key ways in which UKAD can provoke change at all levels of sport. By sharing information and expertise to assist sports in their work, we can ensure that anti-doping is given the importance it deserves.”
As part of UKAD’s new four-year Strategic Plan, launched in April, the organisation has set out a number of ways in which it will increase its collaborative work with sports in order to combat doping.
These include: expanding UKAD’s prevention activity to work with younger age groups; helping NGBs deliver education by providing the latest resources, guidance and access to UKAD’s network of National Trainers; and developing an ‘assurance framework’ in consultation with sports partners to ensure they are fulfilling their anti-doping obligations. UKAD’s four-year Strategic Plan can be found here.