Protect Your Sport: One coach’s experience of blowing the whistle on doping

In 2020, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) launched its confidential reporting channel, Protect Your Sport. Since its inception, hundreds of people have come forward to report their suspicions of doping.

As part of UKAD’s annual awareness campaign, Clean Sport Week, one coach shared insight into why they chose to report potential doping in their sport to UKAD.

“I was saying to the UKAD representative that I spoke to after reporting my concerns, that I’m reporting this because I know it’s the right thing and what should be done.

“I didn’t overthink reporting it, I’d made my mind up that I was going to do it immediately when I became aware of the potential doping.

“It's the stigma isn’t it that can put some people off reporting?” The coach added. “It could be seen as you are grassing somebody up, and that person could be one of your friends, it could be someone that you respect in your sport, or even a teammate. I understand people could find it difficult but it’s against the rules for a reason. You’ve got to protect your sport and stand up for the integrity of your sport.”

Protect Your Sport offers three confidential ways to report: by email (, online form (search: Protect Your Sport), or by phone (08000 32 23 32). No matter how small the information may seem, each piece of intelligence that comes in to Protect Your Sport is evaluated and can make the difference. For the coach, calling the phoneline was their preference.

“It was fairly straightforward, I’d done all the anti-doping training so I knew all the different ways to report. I went online and just had a look at the Protect Your Sport webpage and I thought I’d like to talk to someone about it directly, so I decided to use the phone number.”

During the reporting process, you will be asked if you wish to provide your contact details so UKAD can contact you confidentially to discuss your concerns in more detail, which in this case the coach decided to do.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect or who I’d speak to, but they took all my details and a brief account from me. It was nothing major, it was more like ‘thanks for reporting, someone will get back to you’. It was late in the day, around three in the afternoon when I rang up, but the next day by ten in the morning I’d had a phone call back, so that reassured me that it had been reported properly. It was a quick response which is what I wanted.

“The UKAD representative checked through my initial details and basically asked if I had the time then to do a more formal interview, and said it could take up to an hour, which shocked me, but I thought it’s probably a good thing they want all the details and it wasn’t just to take a rudimentary statement - it was all very thorough. To a point where I actually asked if I was in any trouble. However, they assured me that I was not, they just needed to get the information right.

“Within just two days, UKAD had emailed me a copy of my statement and they made it clear I had to read it word for word and ensure I agreed with everything on there. I read it through and was happy with it, it was a true representation, I signed it and sent it back.

“My part was essentially done at that point. UKAD investigated it and it was later proven that the athlete had been doping. Further down the line, UKAD got in touch to tell me it had all been ratified, made official and the athlete’s ban was being put into the public domain. And that was the last I had to do with it really, it made me realise I’d done my part, my involvement ended there.”

In a notable increase from the preceding three years, UKAD received 184 reports of suspected doping via Protect Your Sport in 2023. This is a significant jump compared to previous years, with 10 reports received in 2020, 75 in 2021, and 110 in 2022.

UKAD believes the continued growth is due to its ongoing campaigning efforts and the ease of using the Protect Your Sport system to report. It also recently commissioned academic research into the behavioural science of whistleblowing to inform their Protect Your Sport work and the potential barriers to reporting doping. Education is also key so that people can recognise a potential doper when they see something untoward.

“If you’ve not done anti-doping education or training, you sometimes may not know it’s a doping violation. If you know it’s being done and choose to ignore it or don’t report it, you’ve got to think about your own integrity too, are you happy to know that someone is doping? 

“It's an irrational thought, but for me I did worry that people were going to associate my coaching with this person. I thought ‘are they going to forever associate me with someone who coached a doper?’, thankfully it hasn’t worked out like that.”

After reflecting on their experience of using the Protect Your Sport platform, the coach wants to ensure that others speak up regarding doping in sport.

“I would just encourage everyone to do it [report suspicions of doping]. If you’re not confident in doing it via phone call, do it by the online form or by email. Your name does not have to appear anywhere. You must stand up for your sport, if you’ve got integrity in your sport, you should be raising your suspicions. You’ve got to come forward and speak up.”

All reports will remain anonymous and could lead to various different actions being taken by UKAD.

Whilst not all reports may lead to evidence being found of doping and there being a subsequent ban from sport, the information you provide, no matter how small will be investigated, so that UKAD can act, fight for fairness and ensure there is a level playing field for all athletes.

To find out more about Protect Your Sport and the reporting process, visit the webpage here.