University research guides newly launched UKAD anti-doping campaign
Intelligence reports are crucial for anti-doping investigations, 35% of bans from sport published in 2019, came from information shared with UKAD. The campaign has been launched to highlight the various ways an athlete, coach or anyone with a suspicion that something’s not right can speak out, in confidence.
UKAD has taken an evidence-based approach to the campaign, utilising research conducted by Leeds Beckett University on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that revealed the concerns and barriers to reporting doping faced by athletes and support personnel.
On average, UKAD receives over 1,200 reports a year, however this number has been significantly impacted by the abrupt halt of competitive sport in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. UKAD is expecting a 30% reduction in reports by the end of 2020, with 638 reports received up to September.
Speaking on the launch of Protect Your Sport, UKAD Director of Operations Pat Myhill said: “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.
“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 LBU 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.”
UKAD has utilised research from WADA and LBU which identified some of the hurdles athletes and support personnel face when they want to speak out about their concerns. These include a lack of awareness of how to report, uncertainty that what they have witnessed is enough to report, concerns over confidentiality and a feeling they won’t be taken seriously.
Professor Sue Backhouse, Director of Research in the Carnegie School of Sport at LBU, 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 need 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.”
UKAD Athlete Commission member, and Olympic Gold Medallist Callum Skinner said “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.”
UKAD has also launched its Whistleblower Policy to outline protections for anyone sharing information about doping. This is linked to changes in the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code about protecting people who report doping in sport.
A new anti-doing rule has been introduced which carries up to a lifetime ban from sport. It applies to anyone who attempts to threaten or intimidate someone into not reporting doping or for retaliating against another person for doing so.