Almost half the country believes drug-taking is rife in sport, according to “alarming” new research commissioned by UK Anti-Doping. The chief executive of UKAD, Nicole Sapstead, last night warned the industry was at a “critical” juncture after a survey ...
Almost half the country believes drug-taking is rife in sport, according to “alarming” new research commissioned by UK Anti-Doping.
The chief executive of UKAD, Nicole Sapstead, last night warned the industry was at a “critical” juncture after a survey of 2,000 British adults exposed a crisis of confidence spawned by some of the biggest scandals of recent years.
The results of last month’s poll, published today to mark the start of the first National Clean Sport Week, found 48 per cent of those questioned believed doping was widespread following a series of high-profile revelations.
Two-thirds also reported that their trust in the integrity of sport had been eroded by stories about drugs at the elite level.
Those stories include the Russian doping scandal, the Sir Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky medication row, missed tests by Lizzie Deignan and Sir Mo Farah, and the ongoing investigation into the latter’s coach.
How last week’s revelation that Farah had been identified as a “likely doping” suspect less than a year before the last Olympics only to be cleared months later impacts on public confidence remains to be seen.
But, for Sapstead, the “alarming” poll results prove the damage had already been done. “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 will decrease,” she said.
“It’s worrying 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.”
Sapstead said she knew of people who were shunning the likes of the Olympics because they could not “trust” what they were seeing.
“I do think people look at certain events and go, ‘what’s the point?’, because of historical doping issues.” Sapstead insisted that more needed to be done to “restore the public’s confidence” and repeated calls for UKAD to be better funded.
Saying it received only “£5.3m grant in aid”, she added: “It’s not enough. It’s not enough to do what is expected of us.
‘‘Anybody who is putting money into sport must ask the question, ‘Is enough being done to address anti-doping?’ And if the answer is no, they’ve then got to say, ‘What do we need to do to mitigate that risk?’ And that means investing money in this area.”
To find out more about Clean Sport Week visitwww.ukad.org.uk/cleansportweek or show your support by using #CleanSportUK