Tackling Doping in Sport 2017: Nicole Sapstead Speech

UKAD’s Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead welcomed delegates to Tackling Doping in Sport 2017.

On behalf of both UK Anti-Doping and World Sports Advocate, I am delighted to welcome you all to Tackling Doping in Sport 2017.

At the conference last year anti-doping was very much in the spotlight, on an international scale, after the publication of the Dick Pound report. That instigated a chain of events that led to the exclusion of Russia from the Rio Paralympic Games and certain Russian sportspeople from the Rio Olympic Games.

I honestly believe the scrutiny that sports, NADOs, WADA, the IOC and IPC are under is here to stay. And rightly so. There is huge interest in this area. We are only at the beginning of March and so far this year we have seen the United States Congress hold a debate on the world’s anti-doping framework whilst I, personally, was called before a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to give evidence with regards to possible doping in the United Kingdom.

Whilst appearing in front of a Select Committee is not high on my list of enjoyable experiences it is only right that as an organisation that is charged with upholding clean sport in this country UKAD should be the subject of scrutiny. It means that people care about what we do, what we do matters.

I, like I imagine most if not all of you in the room, am a fan of sport. I choose to work in this industry because I care and because what we do, as an anti-doping community, is extremely important.

For everyone in this room who dedicates their professional life to the pursuit of protecting a culture of clean sport, greater interest in anti-doping means an even greater level of scrutiny.

Scrutiny from the public who want, and deserve, to believe in what it is that they’re watching.

Scrutiny from athletes who are determined to train, compete and win clean.

And, finally, scrutiny from Governments who invest so heavily into sport – from beginner to elite – and its protection.

This isn’t just about anti-doping; it is about the wider integrity piece, it’s about good governance, transparency and the anti-corruption agenda.

Now is not the time to sit back and hope that the spotlight is never trained on you; it is about being proactive, transparent and wanting to showcase what your organisation is doing to ensure that when your actions and activities are being called into question your position is robust and well founded.

For example, one of the issues highlighted in the recent parliamentary inquiry I was involved in was the question of accurate and timely record keeping. It is vitally important that all sports governing bodies keep their medical records up to date for their athletes. This enables National Anti-Doping Organisations to do their role effectively and it protects your organisation and your athletes.

Now is the right time to be asking searching questions. Could sports go beyond the adoption of Code compliant anti-doping regulations and make it clear that they expect cooperation with anti-doping organisations and failure to do so may jeopardise their affiliation to that sport? Should sports be expected to publish an assurance framework to show how they are addressing the issue of anti-doping in their sport at all levels?

I stood here last year and said this is not and cannot be a fight that is left to the National Anti-Doping Organisations and the public purse to fight. That is a call I shall continue to make. Whether it is financial or otherwise, I would simply ask you to consider what your contribution to clean sport is, and how far are you prepared to go to demonstrate that commitment.

The reputation of sport is at stake. Your brands are at stake. The trust of the person thinking about buying a ticket is at stake. We are all familiar with the analogies of how long it takes to build up a reputation and how quickly that can be destroyed.

We have an opportunity to work together, to embrace the scrutiny so many of us are under, to learn from it and use it to our collective advantage in the pursuit of a clean sport.

This conference provides us with a fantastic opportunity to share our knowledge, our experiences, our tools for tackling this area and ideas in the hope that it paves the way for good anti-doping practice. We have a responsibility to rebuild the confidence in all of our stakeholders – from the public to governments and, most importantly, the clean athletes.

I look forward to debating these issues with you over the course of the next two days.

Follow us on Twitter @ukantidoping for live updates throughout the conference.

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