Drugs in Sport: Winch calls for tougher methods

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The Independent Online
MIKE WINCH, one of the elite Master Coaches within British athletics, yesterday called for a more rigorous system of drug testing in this country, writes Mike Rowbottom.

He echoed many of the sentiments expressed at the weekend by Liz McColgan, the world 10,000 metres champion in 1991, who claimed she had been tested out of competition only once in the last five years.

'That fits in with a pattern which concerns me,' said Winch, a shot-putt Commonwealth Games silver medallist in 1974 and 1982. 'There seem to be a lot of people around not being tested.

'I think the system needs to be truly random both in terms of who is picked for testing and the notice they are given. Unless you have random testing, subjective decisions made by the testers can appear in retrospect to be a total nonsense. If they are targeting people, it would appear they haven't known who is taking drugs because people have been caught in rather than out of competition.'

The Sports Council's drug testing programme, as carried out by the Chelsea Laboratory, uses about pounds 900,000 of the annual Sports Council grant of pounds 50m. A Council spokesman said yesterday that a slight reduction in the testing budget was being envisaged in the next couple of years.

Dr David Cowan, director of the lab, said the annual total of 4,000 tests across all sports could be increased to 10,000 within six months without radically altering the existing facilities or increasing the staff from the current level of 15.

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