BLOG: Driving the athlete voice forward - Jo Calvino

A message from British National Weightlifter Champion and UKAD Athlete Commission member, Jo Calvino.

In November 2019, I was honoured to attend the WADA World Conference on Doping in Sport, on behalf of UKAD's Athlete Commission. It was an insight into the world’s fight against doping in sport, and it was positive to hear the keen discussion of the Anti-Doping Charter of Athlete Rights. I do not feel the athletes have the strongest voice but it is moving forward, with some exceptional athletes working worldwide to drive forward Athletes rights. It was also great to see the final look of the new ADAMS app for athletes submitting whereabouts. I strongly feel this will be a game changer for athletes to make last minute changes or keep up-to-date with submissions, as it’s much more user friendly for athletes. 

One of the crucial things I took away from the conference was the need for education, which appears to be a constant challenge. Whilst we in the UK are fortunate with a great education programme from UKAD, the same cannot be said for all other NADOs and sports federations across the globe. I’ve always said education is key in sport, as an athlete, a coach, even an administrator. Anti-doping education should be recognised as a fundamental element of a young person’s experience of the athlete pathway. In weightlifting, more effort needs to be made so that young athletes who work hard to qualify and gain selection are able to compete, rather than run the risk of ineligibility because of avoidable whereabouts errors. There is room for improvement in how sports assist their athletes and that’s why the Athlete Commission’s work is so important. Athletes, retired and currently competing, are supporting the next generation coming through.

My three top tips for athletes: 

  1. Keep up-to-date with the prohibited substances list, keep this saved on your phone or print a copy off and display at your training venue, this way you can also help other athletes
  2. If you keep a training diary/log – record any medication or supplements you may be taking that day/week or long term, so you have this information to hand and cannot forget
  3. Ask questions – If you are unsure ask, you can check medications on the WADA Prohibited List and Global DRO, and supplements on Informed Sport. Ask your national governing body or contact UKAD for advice. When being drug tested, if you have any concerns, ask the doping control officer (DCO).

I felt the conference showed how important it is for governing bodies, NADOs and key stakeholders to work together. It is not only the powers that be to make changes, but all involved in sport. That is the reason why I joined the UKAD Athlete Commission, to serve as a voice for athletes, to share and to educate using lessons learned from previous experiences, and to inform younger colleagues of our responsibilities as athletes and ambassadors for sport on the stance against doping in sport.