The Clean Sport Blog discusses the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Clean Sport Accreditation Scheme with Ruth Owen-Evans, Performance and Lifestyle Manager at Hartpury College.
At the end of 2015, Hartpury College became the first institution to become accredited under the Scheme, achieving the Elite Accreditation, which Ruth believes reflects the College’s commitment to clean sport and protecting its athletes.
“It was important for us to lead the way as an institution and show our commitment to clean sport and clean athletes”, she said.
“Providing athletes with anti-doping education ensures that they have the knowledge and understanding to make the right decisions as their careers develop and take responsibility for their nutrition and lifestyle. Athletes also understand that they can speak to a dedicated member of staff if they ever need guidance.
“We feel that by raising the general awareness of anti-doping concepts, our athletes are now much more likely to seek guidance before taking or using a particular supplement, substance or medication rather than making assumptions or simply believing a sales pitch.”
As part of the Clean Sport Accreditation Scheme, UKAD offers a number of opportunities for professional development, including the Accredited Advisor course, and according to Ruth, enrolling on the Scheme has not only been beneficial to the athletes of Hartpury, but the College and its staff as well.
“Personally, I feel that a major benefit is the capacity we now have to deliver education to our student athletes, which, in turn, links to supporting the professional development of our staff. Externally I see the accreditation as an excellent recruitment tool for the College as it shows that we are making a commitment to clean sport and looking out for the wellbeing of our student-athletes.
“Staff across the College are encouraged to complete the UKAD Accredited Advisor course and we have also trained a small number of staff as UKAD Educators. This helps with staff development and increases the general anti-doping knowledge base around the College.
“We are currently working to integrate anti-doping into a new higher education course and we have even have a student completing a Master’s degree working on research connected with the Scheme.”
Ruth admits that achieving ‘Elite Accredited’ status was by no means easy and took a level of commitment from both the institution and its staff across the board.
“The process was straight forward, but to deliver on our plan it involved hard work and buy-in from a number of different College departments. Without the engagement of different departments, it would not have been possible to achieve the highest level of accreditation.
“Getting top level buy-in from the start has been really important – ensuring that senior staff understand the benefits of becoming accredited is essential.”
Ruth also believes that the Accreditation Scheme provides an invaluable opportunity to widen UKAD’s Education Delivery Network – which currently includes National Trainers, Educators and Accredited Advisors – even further. Providing a platform to educate the next generation of athletes, support staff and future sports professionals who graduate through institutions such as Hartpury College.
“UKAD does a fantastic job but its resources and staff are finite. As a result, UKAD does not have the capacity to reach as wide as is necessary without the support of the Education Delivery Network.
“The Accreditation Scheme ensures that the quality of education being delivered is of a consistently high standard across the board, without having to utilise UKAD staff. Spreading the network of knowledge and understanding of the principles of clean sport can only have a positive impact in the long term.”
Reflecting on the hard work and commitment shown by the institution to get to this point, Ruth is proud to call Hartpury an ‘Elite Accredited’ institution.
“I would encourage other institutions to get involved and become accredited, even if they cannot go for the top level of accreditation, as it is extremely worthwhile. It takes hard work and is not a short term project but we believe that it helps us to safeguard the integrity and credibility of our College and our student athletes.”
For more information relating to the UKAD Accreditation Scheme please visit the UKAD website.