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Sport Is ‘At Critical Point’, Says UKAD Chief

UK Anti-Doping chief Nicole Sapstead has urged sponsors and broadcasters to invest in clean sport from the risk of doping scandals and restore confidence of public in elite performance.

A research commissioned by UK Anti-Doping revealed that half of all British adults believe doping is widespread in top-level sport. Carried out by ComRes, the poll disclosed that two thirds of the 2,027 adults questioned last month were of the view that the recent coverage of high-profile cases has had a negative impact on their trust in integrity of sports.

Sapstead admitted these numbers were "damning" and "alarming." The UK Anti-Doping however took some reassurance from the poll findings that six out of 10 adults believe Britain has a stricter anti-doping system than elsewhere and approximately two in three think sports is cleaner in Britain than in other countries. Sapstead also commented that she would prefer seeing both of those figures much higher and that will take more money from the current budget of UK Anti-Doping of just over £7million, of which more than £5million comes from government.

The UK Anti-Doping chief remarked the question of more money for anti-doping should not just be one for the various sports. Sapstead added she would also ask the question of sponsors, broadcasters and anybody who is financially involved. The chief of UKAD anyone who is going to stake brand and reputation on something should want some reassurance that what you are investing in is compliant with the rules and also said it should be a part of their due diligence but she does not think enough sponsors are asking that question. The UK Anti-Doping chief also said if they are asking that question then her guess is they are not going to get the reassurance they need very often and that is when they should come to us.

Sapstead also remarked doping should be on their risk registry and they should do anything they can to mitigate the threat of reputation damage. The UKAD chief said it is very clear to her that we cannot keep expecting the public purse to foot the bill for clean sport. Sapstead also emphasized the requirements for greater powers to investigate, as anti-doping has become about so much more than collecting and testing samples. She also remarked one obvious improvement in this area would be the ability to quickly follow up leads on rogue doctors or coaches that are often held up by data protection laws. Sapstead said we often just get a name and it would be very helpful if we could find out if this person is registered with a sport so we can get a number or address and added this should be a condition of their license to operate within that sport.

Sapstead also went on to remark that that she does not think the public knows about all the positive work we are doing and she thinks we have to get better at telling those stories, telling people that we are here and that our athletes are tested.

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Albert Wolfgang
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