UKAD conducts research into athlete support teams and their influence on clean sport

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is delighted to be able to share the findings from a recently commissioned research project gleaning insight and understanding from the UK-based network of Athlete Support Personnel (ASP) into their behaviour, understanding and influence on clean sport.

ASP with athletes

Following previous research UKAD conducted into the needs of coaches and parents, this work focussed on those ASP supporting an athlete or team from the fields of sport medicine, sport science and physical preparation.

A broad range of ASP across the UK contributed to this research either through a survey (led by the Clean Sport Alliance on behalf of UKAD) or as part of focus groups. The research looked to better identify what ASP understand about their role in clean sport, how confident they feel about delivering clean sport education, and gathered thoughts and recommendations for future educational support for this influential group of practitioners.

UKAD’s Chief Executive Jane Rumble commented: “We are committed to empowering practitioners to develop in their athlete support roles and be able to confidently advise athletes on clean sport matters. This vital research project has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the behaviours of many ASP and where we should better focus our efforts when it comes to their education and the resources available to them.”

The key findings demonstrated that ASP felt committed to clean sport and a professional duty to protect the health and wellbeing of their athletes. There was consensus amongst ASP that clean sport education should become a mandatory element of their development, embedded into their training as practitioners. ASP recognised that opportunities to engage in discussion with fellow practitioners would offer greater insight and be an effective means of raising confidence across support teams, whilst also ensuring consistency in messaging.

Similar to the feedback from coaches last year, educational content needs to remain relevant to their environment and the athletes they support.

In response to these findings, UKAD is working to strengthen its approach to education programmes for ASP, as it recognises the need to build a curriculum focussed on the responsibilities of those who work with athletes, providing the most effective and engaging programme of support.

Through engagement with key stakeholders, the relevant professional bodies, and university institutions, UKAD will work towards the objective of clean sport education becoming embedded within practitioner development plans and will facilitate positive discussions around clean sport issues.

UKAD is, in addition, investing in expanding its tailored resources (including online education courses), engagement opportunities (such as forums and conferences), and support mechanisms (for instance toolkits and guides), to ensure practitioners remain capable of fully supporting athletes.

UKAD is committed to driving the research agenda and enhancing knowledge in matters related to clean sport and anti-doping, building its reputation as a leading national anti-doping organisation (NADO), and will continue to engage with ASP on such research.

Read the report here.

ASP report