Start anti-doping education young

23 Mar 2015

The recent international Tackling Doping in Sport conference has highlighted the need for anti-doping awareness and education to start a younger age, Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel says.  

Mr Steel and the organisation’s Director of Testing and Investigations, Jude Ellis, joined more than 200 others at the conference in London to discuss the major issues facing those charged with stamping out doping.  

The conference was addressed by a range of speakers, including athletes, anti-doping regulators, lawyers and representatives from International sporting organisations.  

The chair of the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete Commission and Olympic silver medallist, Claudia Bokel told the conference on day one there had been a shift in focus in the anti-doping movement.

She said this change was driven by athletes and seen the emphasis move from the “fight against doping” to “protecting clean athletes”.

Ms Bokel applauded the new World Anti-Doping Code (which came into force on January 1, 2015) because it allows samples to be kept for ten years after an Olympic Games.  She said this means athletes who dope have to “live with the risk of exposure and shame for a number of years.”

Other highlights from day one, included a presentation from German researcher, Hajo Seppelt, on doping in Russia and a presentation by Jonathan Vaughters, a self-confessed doper who raced with Lance Armstrong.

Mr Steel said Mr Vaughters presented a much more positive impression of the state of elite cycling than others have done in the past.

Mr Steel and Ms Ellis said the key message they took home from the first day of the conference was the need for anti-doping education to start early.

“There was a general consensus about the need to start anti-doping awareness and education at younger ages in recognition of the reality of supplement use and the need to provide clearer guidance,” Mr Steel said.

On day two, the UK double Olympic swimming gold medallist, Rebecca Adlington, shared her thoughts on the importance and challenges for athletes around drug testing, athlete whereabouts and the risks associated with supplements.  

A UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) solicitor, Stacey Shevill, then shared some interesting anti-doping rule violation cases, which highlighted  the increasing role of intelligence in identifying athletes and athlete support personnel who are doping or breaking other anti-doping rules.

The final presentation was from the President of the Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI), Brian Cookson, on the recent CIRC report into doping in cycling.  

He said, “We have to have a sport where a child can go to the very top of their sport without having to cheat, without risking their health and without having to look over their shoulder.” Cookson claimed "we've been in a long, dark tunnel but there is light at the end of that tunnel.”

The UCI is now aiming to use an intelligence led approach more effectively to catch those who dope.