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Leeds Beckett University establishes clean sport collaboration with University of Nairobi

Dr Laurie Patterson, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University, is supporting a team of academics in Kenya to deliver a two-day clean sport workshop, 17th-18th December 2020.

Leeds Beckett University establishes clean sport collaboration with University of Nairobi

Funded by the Building International Collaborations Prize, which is a strand of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the event will provide anti-doping education to Physical Education students and University games tutors, with the programme involving representatives of the Anti-Doping Association of Kenya (ADAK), national sport federations (e.g., Athletics Kenya), legal professionals and academics/researchers from several institutions.

Speaking about her involvement in the project, Dr Patterson said, “It is an honour to support staff at the University of Nairobi in hosting a clean sport workshop. I have the privilege of delivering the opening keynote presentation, and I am very proud to have this opportunity to discuss all the fantastic work that has been undertaken by members of the Protecting Sporting Integrity and Welfare (PROSPER) Research Group in the Carnegie School of Sport. In normal times, I would attend the event in person but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this has not been possible. So, for the last few months I have been working closely with Dr Janet Wanjira, who is leading the event, over email and video call. We have made it work, despite the challenging circumstances we all find ourselves in.”

Having previously been successful in attaining funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Social Science Research Grant Scheme, Dr Patterson was connected to Dr Wanjira by WADA’s Senior Manager of Education, Tony Cunningham. Dr Wanjira explains, “Dr Patterson was introduced to me by the Senior Manager in charge of Education at WADA due to our shared interest in conducting research with athlete support personnel. This was at a time when I had submitted a research grant proposal, which according to Tony Cunningham was of interest to WADA but needed some methodological support from a researcher grounded in the same area of my interest.”

Although Dr Patterson initially became involved with Dr Wanjira as a ‘critical friend’, offering guidance around methodology as well as proof-reading, the pair really hit it off and Dr Wanjira invited Dr Patterson to join her project to investigate the anti-doping roles of Kenyan Collegiate athlete support personnel, specifically focussing on coaches and team managers. The main objective of this project is to develop an understanding of what behaviours, if any, coaches and team managers undertake to promote clean sport, and to consider the personal and environmental factors that influence their behaviours. The work is a first step in addressing the absence of evidence related to athlete support personnel in African nations.”

Dr Wanjira comments, “Since Laurie and I got engaged my research grant proposal was funded and if it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic we would be through with the first phase of data collection. However, this [the partnership formed for the project] has gone on to another level of collaboration between the University of Nairobi and Leeds Beckett University. Dr Patterson’s University has gone on to fund a two-day workshop, which is a very unique forum that has not happened in my university before. Virtually, the academic staff will be sharing research-based knowledge, elite athletes will share personal experiences in sports competition drugs free, sports officials will be enlightening sports stakeholders on their role in supporting fair play in sports, not to mention the National Anti-Doping Association of Kenya (ADAK) interacting with all sports stakeholders.”

Reflecting further on the support she has received in the lead up to the clean sport workshop, Dr Wanjira added “On behalf of the University of Nairobi and specifically the Department of Physical Education and Sport, I wish to thank Leeds Beckett University for the opportunity of their staff sharing knowledge and also for funding this very important workshop that for sure will have an impact on academic staff, athletes, coaches and sports officials. I hope this is the beginning of wider and long-lasting collaboration.”

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