Athlete Committee member and England International Jon Wilkin talks us through the importance of clean sport on the eve of the Rugby League World Cup, kicking off on 26 October, and this year hosted in England and Wales:
"In May 2010 I was appointed a member of UKAD’s newly-formed Athlete Committee. This provided an opportunity for athletes and players such as myself to feed into anti-doping policy and decision making for, like it or not, anti-doping is part and parcel of life in elite sport.
"Amidst all the preparations for this month’s Rugby League World Cup – the hours of training on the pitch and in the gym – the responsibility to compete clean is constant and essential. Our sport has been under public scrutiny since the Australian Crime Commission report was published back in January, and fans have a right to watch, support, and believe in a doping-free World Cup.
"One of the key developments in anti-doping we have seen over the last three years is the use of intelligence to inform programmes through a risk-based approach. Every player coming to compete in the UK this month should be prepared for a stringent anti-doping programme. Through the Athlete Committee, I have learnt firsthand of how such an approach works and how important this approach is to anti-doping. UKAD’s Intelligence Team gather all kinds of information and use this to inform their testing and education programmes.
"The Education team have been working on a bespoke ‘Win Clean’ campaign to ensure that all players are made aware of their anti-doping rights and responsibilities.
"It is not enough for players to say ‘I didn’t know’- the principle of strict liability requires every player or athlete, whatever your sport, to take responsibility for what goes into their body. The Athlete Committee has discussed the issue of supplements on a number of occasions, the high number of positives these products cause, and the possible risks to health. Education programmes are in place to raise awareness and help prevent inadvertent doping. Supporting this, UKAD will also work with the coaches, medics, team managers and other key staff supporting teams at the World Cup to ensure they help players to make the most informed decisions when it comes to anti-doping.
"I hope we can inspire a few more to take up the sport, and importantly, be encouraged to do so without the temptation of performance-enhancing drugs."