Lady bowlers face drug test

A DRUGS problem has shaken an unlikely sport - the sedate world of women's bowls.

When the competitors, in their regulation white hats, starched white blouses and white skirts - which must be at least two inches below the knee - gather at Victoria Park, Leamington Spa, later this month for the English Women's Bowls Association's national championships, drug testers from the Sports Council are expected to be there too.

The problem is not anabolic steroids or amphetamines, the curses of more strenuous sports, but beta blockers, drugs routinely prescribed by doctors for people with high blood pressure or heart conditions. They calm tremors that could affect a bowler's performance, so they are on the International Olympic Committee's list of banned substances.

Mary Fitzhenry of the Sports Council points out that bowls is a Commonwealth Games sport and the same procedures apply as in the Olympics. 'We are sympathetic to people who are prescribed beta blockers by doctors for genuine medical need,' she said. 'The last thing we want to do is stop anybody playing bowls for fun. But if a person wants to compete at county, national or international level, beta blockers may give an unfair advantage.'

Doctors agree that there are adequate substitutes for beta blockers. 'For most conditions it would be perfectly possible to find an alternative that doesn't give a player undue advantage,' said Dr Hardial Singh, a consultant cardiologist from Coventry.

The Sports Council's drug control officer held a lengthy meeting with the administrators of women's bowls in April. A letter will go out in September emphasising that a specific reference to beta blockers must be included in the sport's regulations.

'There is still concern about bowls,' said Ms Fitzhenry. 'We don't feel that they are taking the issue seriously enough.'

Nancie Colling, secretary of the English Women's Bowls Association, disagrees. She says there were 36 drugs tests at men's and women's bowls tournaments last year and not one was positive - clear evidence that the association has met all the requirements demanded of it. 'The rules and regulations are written into our yearbook. If anybody playing at representative level has a banned drug prescribed to them, they have to get a substitute.'

There is more at stake than the good name of the sport. If the Sports Council is not satisfied with the measures that the association takes, it could withdraw its pounds 10,000 annual grant to women's bowls.

Ms Fitzhenry said: 'It's no good having a few lines about drugs in the rule book. The governing body must implement a drug control programme.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn