UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has launched a new ‘Protect Your Sport’ campaign, aimed at encouraging individuals to share their concerns about doping in sport.
Should the campaign be successful in encouraging people to come forward, it is hoped that UKAD can improve on their intelligence reports that are essential in investigating possible breaches of the law.
35 per cent of bans from sport, published in 2019, came from information that was shared with UKAD, leading to the organisation forming the new campaign to encourage this further and give confidence to anyone involved with a sport to speak out.
According to a statement released by UKAD, the organisation receives on average 1,200 reports per year, however, in 2020, those numbers are expected to be significantly lower, due to the sudden halting of sport across the UK in March and throughout much of the summer when the coronavirus pandemic first started to take effect. UKAD is expecting an overall drop in reports to be around 30 per cent, having only received 638 reports as of September.
“There’s an understanding that it takes a team to be successful in sport, and it’s the same in keeping sport clean. We’re here to protect the values of sport which everyone holds dear, but we can’t do it on our own,” said Pat Myhill, UKAD’s director of operations.
“People coming to us with their concerns about doping is absolutely vital for clean sport, and our message in this campaign is clear- if you feel like something’s not right, report it.
“When competitive sport stopped in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, we saw a small decline in intelligence reports. But we know, and the Leeds Beckett research shows us that there are longer-term issues around people in sport not knowing how to report, and what to report, so that’s why we’re launching this campaign.
“Protect Your Sport highlights how easy it is to share your concerns with us, with 100% confidentiality. Even if someone is not sure what they have seen is doping, we want to hear from them.”
The Protect Your Sport campaign has utilised research as part of its make-up from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Leeds Beckett University, to ensure that any of the issues that have prevented athletes from speaking out in the past are no longer an obstacle to overcome, including a lack of awareness on how to report, uncertainty that what they have witnessed is enough to make a report, concerns over confidentiality and a feeling that they won’t be taken seriously.
Professor Sue Backhouse of Leeds Beckett University said: “I'm pleased to see UKAD taking steps to overcome some of the barriers people face when they want to report their doping concerns. Clean sport will only be realised if everyone involved in sport plays their part.
“To play their part, the sporting community needs to understand the process of reporting their concerns and be reassured of the safeguards in place. At the same time, sports organisations need to actively encourage their members to come forward with information. Protecting the integrity of sport and the welfare of athletes is a collective effort.”
Olympic gold medallist and UKAD athlete commission member Callum Skinner added: “Athletes need to know how to report any concerns they might have about another athlete. We all work so hard for our successes and the thought of someone cheating me out of that is what drives me to help protect sport.
“This campaign from UKAD is an excellent initiative to ensure that athletes and coaches know there is a place where they can go to talk to someone if they think something isn’t right. We all have a responsibility and I’m sure this will help athletes who have that nagging doubt to come forward.”
Meanwhile, UKAD has also launched its Whistleblower Policy, that will outline the protection of any individual who is sharing information about doping, in line with changes to the 2021 WADA Code. A new rule has also been introduced, which will see a person banned for life from sport if they threaten or intimidate someone into not reporting doping or retaliating against someone for doing so.
Author: Jake Wilkin