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Doping Should Not Lead To Jail Sentences, Says British Government

The United Kingdom Government has said it will not criminalize doping in sport, unlike its counterparts in Australia, France, and Italy.

A review of the issue was released by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch remarked there is no compelling case to criminalize the act of doping in the United Kingdom. Crouch added this also reflects the very strong consensus of those interviewed, including the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Sports Minister also commented that she is content with this conclusion and do not believe that the Government should take steps to criminalize doping.

Crouch also said these findings do not mean that those doping in sport will be immune from prosecution, as this is already captured by existing legislation through the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Medicines Act 1968, where the trafficking and supply of banned substances carries up to imprisonment of 14 years. The sports minister said Britain had always been a supporter against doping. The country has complied with the World Anti-Doping Code and is a signatory to UNESCO's International Convention Against Doping in Sport besides establishing UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) as the National Anti-Doping Organization.

The Sports Minister added we can never be complacent in our approach given the fast-moving nature of this area. Crouch added the developments we have seen unfold in recent times have been highly concerning, not least with independent investigations commissioned by WADA revealing large scale state-sponsored doping in Russia. It was also commented by Crouch that she had tasked officials in her Department to undertake a review to assess whether the existing UK framework remains sufficiently robust, or whether additional legislative measures are necessary to criminalize the act of doping in the United Kingdom.

Last month, UK Anti-Doping called for a ban on the importation of some Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs). Pat Myhill, director of operations at UK Anti-Doping said anabolic steroids are now so widespread that they are not just the preserve of the sporting community anymore - the pursuit of 'the body beautiful' means that use of steroids is increasing particularly amongst younger men and teenage boys.

The use of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs is increasing in the United Kingdom among amateur athletes and gym users with 55 per cent of reports associating to amateur and low level athletes. It was also argued by UK Anti-Doping that the use of growth hormone releasing factors should be banned as their use is becoming more widespread at elite and amateur sports level, as well as at public gyms and within the bodybuilding communities.

Myhill added there are significant harms associated with the use of IPEDs, including heart disease and liver damage, as well as those related to mental health, including aggression and depression.

The director of operations at UK Anti-Doping also remarked we believe the importation and possession - outside of medical use - of these drugs should be made illegal, not only to protect clean sport but a young generation from the serious side effects they can cause. Myhill added we need a strong partnership between Government, public health, and sport agencies to better educate the public about the harmful aspects of these substances.

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Albert Wolfgang
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