Andy Parkinson, Chief Executive of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), the national anti-doping organisation for the UK and Chair of the Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency (CAHAMA), the forum where senior European officials prepare European positions on political issues to be decided by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Right now it seems that everyone is talking about doping, whether it is the recent high-profile cases in athletics, the ongoing debates in cycling, or commentators expressing their various views on the current anti-doping rules and system.
So how does this impact on sport and the fans that watch and follow their heroes? Understandably and rightly doping activity is perceived negatively by fans and all those who love sport, so some might argue its best not to know. Exposing dopers is however the only way forward to protect the next generation of sports people and the vast majority of athletes who compete clean. Anti-doping agencies are here to protect clean athletes and to deter those tempted to dope. To achieve this we have to catch and expose cheats.
Agencies and international federations across the world are making progress in changing cultures and behaviours to tackle doping, but this does not stop spectators feeling deceived and deprived of fair competition as each new case is revealed. The good news is that publicising doping offences has a positive impact on other athletes and acts as a deterrent by showing potential dopers that there are significant risks in breaking the rules.
The UK will host a large number of the world’s leading sports competitions over the coming years, offering opportunities to inspire young people to take part in sport and have active and healthy lifestyles. The preferred outcome of any sporting event is that all athletes are clean and competition comes with a guarantee of legitimacy. No one wants high profile doping cases to detract from the spectacle or impact on the reputation of events.
UKAD’s continual focus will be on ensuring our home teams and athletes compete and win clean. At the same time we will actively pursue and target, both here and abroad, anyone who makes the error of thinking dopers are safe from being caught in the UK. We will continue to work with our wide range of partners as sport must work collaboratively with anti-doping agencies and governments have a fundamental and central role to play.
Catching cheats demonstrates the anti-doping system works, gives clean athletes’ confidence when they compete, and helps to protect the long-term integrity and reputation of sport. We know this to be true as it is what the players, athletes and fans have told us many, many times.