Nicole Sapstead, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Chief Executive, has expressed fears for the future of public engagement with sport in the United Kingdom unless the fight against doping is stepped up on all fronts.
Sapstead made the comment after the release of a new research for National Clean Sport Week into how doping stories are affecting public confidence in sport. The research published by UK Anti-Doping disclosed that two thirds of the British public (66%) believes that stories about an elite athlete or athletes doping in sport have had a negative impact on their trust in the integrity of sport. Nearly half of British adults (48%) in addition believe that high-profile stories on doping in sport make them think that doping is widespread. The National Clean Sport Week research revealed that three fifths (60%) believe that Britain has stricter rules, better testing and education to prevent doping in sport than other countries.
The study commissioned by UK Anti-Doping and carried out by ComRes was released to mark the start of National Clean Sport Week (10-17 July), which is a campaign to emphasize on the extensive work being done by UK Anti-Doping and its partners to ensure sport in the United Kingdom is clean.
Sapstead remarked that there is very much left to be done to educate society in general about clean sport if faith in the probity of sport is to be restored, in addition to the education and intelligence-led testing of athletes. The UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive remarked we are at a critical point in the fight against doping and unless action is stepped up across all sports, at all levels, to help us fight the cheats, we may find that both sports audiences and participation decrease in the future.
Sapstead also commented that it is worrying that so many people are losing their trust in the integrity of sport because of stories they see in the media, which are making them believe doping is more widespread than it actually is. She also commented this is not the true picture in Britain, but the public don’t know about the reality. The Chief Executive of UK Anti-Doping added this is the reason why we are launching National Clean Sport Week, to highlight the facts and the work we are doing to keep sport clean in the United Kingdom.
Some of the best known elite sports stars of Britain are backing National Clean Sport Week, along with 30 national governing bodies of sport, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association, DCMS, and UK Sport.
Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE, Olympic gold medal winning hockey player, remarked National Clean Sport Week is so important to get people talking. Kate said it is important to spread the information, spread the knowledge to the athletes, that are already well informed, and the public generally, about how much testing goes on, how much education we are given, how much knowledge there is throughout UK, to make sure we are competing on that clean level. Three-time Olympic rowing gold medalist and member of the UKAD Athlete Committee Andrew T Hodge OBE remarked it gives him a sense of enormous pride that he can prove on a regular basis that he is a clean athlete.
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