If you were to ask a member of the general public what they know about UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), or anti-doping in general, they would probably respond by naming the latest athlete to be banned from sport for the use of a prohibited substance. What they might not be as aware of is the tireless work that anti-doping organisations such as UKAD undertake in order to prevent doping behaviour and to protect clean athletes from making poor decisions. Risk management is at the heart of clean sport education.
Over the last ten years, UKAD’s flagship programme, 100% me, has provided over 25,000 athletes from 50 different sports with anti-doping education and information. This is because prevention through values based education programmes is key to creating and protecting a culture of clean sport. The more that athletes, players and support personnel at any stage of their career understand about the risk of inadvertently testing positive, and their rights and responsibilities, the less likely they are to be negatively affected by these risks.
Through education, athletes are also able to appreciate the values of hard work, determination, passion, respect and integrity that are central to success within sport. By promoting these factors and discouraging cheating through the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), we hope to support athletes to compete, and win, clean.
It is extremely important that athletes, players and support staff understand the role that they play in protecting clean sport. Making the right decisions throughout their career as a clean athlete, and acting as a role model, will have a lasting positive effect. However, a ban from sport for breaking anti-doping rules is detrimental not only to their own career, but to the careers of both colleagues and aspiring athletes alike. Anti-doping education provides athlete support personnel (ASP) with the knowledge to guide athletes to make informed and educated decisions to create a lasting clean sport legacy. As a result, anti-doping education is provided not only to athletes, but to teachers, coaches and parents in order to ensure everyone around an athlete is creating the right environment to ensure rules aren’t broken.
It’s fair to say that the anti-doping process and especially sample collection can seem like a daunting prospect for athletes just starting out on their sporting journey. The first time that an athlete is selected for doping control and is asked to provide a sample is an experience few are likely to forget. However, on a daily basis, UKAD is here to support clean athletes by providing them with knowledge and confidence. Both in and out of competition sample collection, providing Whereabouts, checking supplements and medications should be seen by athletes as only another important day-to-day activity. Education is the way to do that.
It is possible for athletes to receive a ban for unintentionally breaking anti-doping rules. 45% of UKAD cases investigated during 2012 were related to inadvertent use of prohibited substances and methods. Inadvertent doping can occur through the use of medications or supplements that contained prohibited substances. Athletes of all levels are constantly reminded during anti-doping education to check the informed sport and Global DRO websites and to only use supplements that have been batch tested and medications that they have checked do not contain prohibited substances. By informing individuals of these channels, inadvertent doping can be reduced and anti-doping organisations are able to focus on those determined to intentionally cheat.
For more information on UKAD’s education programme, please visit the 100% me website.