World Science Day: the science of catching sporting cheats

World Science Day, Wednesday 10 November 2021

It’s just not worth the risk: the science of catching sporting cheats and how to not be a dope in the first place

This year’s World Science Day, under the auspices of UNESCO, aims to demonstrate that science is all around you and is a part of everybody’s life. Athletes and their support teams have long relied on science and research-led training programmes, from nutrition and hydration, to mind and body strengthening techniques, all based on data and analysis.

Emily Robinson, Interim Chief Executive of UKAD, notes the importance of science and innovation in our work:

“We’re delighted to join the celebration of World Science Day this year. Science and its role in keeping us all safe has recently had significant profile during the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re proud of the work the scientists at UKAD undertake to keep sport clean.

Our long partnership with the outstanding team at King’s College London is a testament to our support of scientific excellence and is at the heart of our testing programme. We only see this commitment to being at the forefront of scientific developments growing, and the establishment of our Insight and Innovation team will highlight and back the most relevant and promising research opportunities.”

Multiple partnerships help share and extend the knowledge, data and intelligence we hold. For example, last month UKAD published its annual guidance to the World Anti-Doping Organisation’s (WADA) Prohibited list with updates on changes to issues such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

Innovative collaborative working is key. At the end of this summer a new six-year contract was signed between UKAD and DCC (The Drug Control Centre), King’s Forensics at King’s College London, marking a new stage in a longstanding partnership aimed at keeping sport clean. In addition to providing a resource to hold and test new samples as well as resample those we hold (for up to ten years), UKAD has been working with King's to boost resources to foster best practice.

Professor Kim Wolff, The Director of King’s Forensics, which hosts the DCC, said of this enduring partnership:

“UKAD is integral to the work of the DCC. It’s a two-way relationship in which we provide research and expertise on methodological advances and analytical scope, and UKAD’s teams deliver the outreach to test and supply the samples. UKAD's ability to work with us on research and educational programmes has been critical too. We are currently working on a Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) to jointly explain the anti-doping process. Its impact societally is particularly significant. The course will be released in advance of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Collaborative developments such as this illustrate how well we work together to ensure detection as well as education, at all levels, is central to our enduring relationship.”

One of the principle goals of World Science Day is to help make science more accessible and understandable, and UKAD and its partners aim to do just that.  

To find out more about UKAD’s Research & Innovation agenda visit our Research page. To contact us about collaborating on research with UKAD please email