Anti-doping education failing to be consistent across sports

Anti-doping education is failing to be consistent across sports, according to University of Stirling research.

The study, carried out by Dr Mathieu Winand, Lecturer in Sport Management at the University of Stirling, examined the challenges faced by sport federations in the UK in anti-doping education.

Dr Winand said: “The risk of intentional doping in the UK is deemed to be low, so current efforts are mainly aimed at tackling inadvertent doping, which may occur through the use of contaminated supplements.”

However, differences in terms of resources, capacity and priorities between sport federations lead to differences in the delivery of anti-doping education activities across sports, and thus threatened the homogeneity of the anti-doping system and what athletes and support staff know across sports. This is reinforced by the support provided by UK Anti-Doping prioritising high risk sport.

The study also found that there is a lack of clarity on who is responsible for providing anti-doping education to British elite athletes at regional, national or international levels.

In addition, a lack of consistency and co-ordination between the various sports organisations involved in providing anti-doping education may create confusion.

When athletes compete at senior or professional levels, sport federations and UK Anti-Doping are still responsible in theory, but when travelling abroad they are often perceived to be outside the control of their sport federation.

“Senior and professional athletes may also receive additional information from their international sport federation, their professional players’ association and their club or team.

“The lack of coordination between these organisations does not help elite athletes, and it’s difficult to know what athletes actually know or remember about anti-doping.”

Dr Winand calls for clearer responsibilities for sport federations towards the type of anti-doping education that needs to be delivered and the people that needs to be targeted in order to reach consistency across sports. Furthermore, he argues there is a need for better monitoring systems setting objectives and evaluating anti-doping education programmes, as well as collaboration between sport federations sharing good practices. Finally, the role of sport federations in doping prevention is not sufficiently recognised by funding agencies.

The Carnegie Trust-funded project investigated the role and challenges of 12 UK sport federations and UKAD in doping prevention. It was the first study of its kind in the UK to analyse anti-doping education.

The report, entitled ‘Analysis of the role and challenges of sport federations in doping prevention in the UK’, is available to download here.

The research was funded by The Carnegie Trust.

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