Drugs in Sport: Inquiry highlights 'lack of trust' over test procedures

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The Independent Online

An independent inquiry into UK Sport's anti-doping programme has identified "key weaknesses", including a failure to maintain the trust of some governing bodies and athletes, but recommends the organisation should remain the national body to carry out drug tests in sport.

An independent inquiry into UK Sport's anti-doping programme has identified "key weaknesses", including a failure to maintain the trust of some governing bodies and athletes, but recommends the organisation should remain the national body to carry out drug tests in sport.

The review by consultants PMP calls for a major shake-up of the management structure of the drug-free sport directorate, suggesting that a separate board of directors be set up to check its overall running.

There have been complaints from sports such as swimming that UK Sport has a conflict of interest since it both funds élite athletes and tests them. The report, published yesterday, was instigated by UK Sport's chairman, Sue Campbell, soon after she succeeded Sir Rodney Walker last September. It considered if a completely separate anti-doping agency was needed.

"The greatest criticisms relate to the potential for conflict of interests, the communications of results and the disciplinary process," the inquiry found. But it said there was "no tangible evidence of unethical behaviour" in those operating the two main roles of UK Sport, and felt the expense of creating separate bodies could not be justified.

The situation in the UK "has produced an environment of lack of trust and confidence both in GB's [sports governing bodies] and athletes; the system lacks transparency ... procedures and checks in place to ensure confidentiality are comprehensive and meet ISO standards but perhaps are not sufficiently well understood or communicated to those outside UK Sport".

UK Sport said yesterday: "We are looking at a new board as another level of scrutiny for the doping directorate. At the moment we do not and will not release names of those who have tested positive. That is entirely down to the individual governing bodies."

The stand-off between UK Sport and Michele Verroken, the head of their doping directorate, has yet to be resolved. Verroken was a casualty of a staff shake-up in early December and has been on leave on full pay. She is reported to have rejected at least one offer of a pay-off.

PMP's review began in January and they spoke to 38 sports organisations and 47 individual competitors. Comparisons were also made with the anti-doping arrangements of six other countries: Australia, Canada, France, Norway, Sweden and the US.

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