Select Committee on Science and Technology

No.19 of Session 2006-07

22 February 2007



The Science and Technology Committee today calls for tough new measures to tackle doping in sport in the run up to the London Olympic games.

In its report, Human Enhancement Technologies in Sport, the Committee says more needs to be done if the UK is to play "clean" and set a good example for the 2012 Olympics.

Among the measures the Committee calls for are a four year ban in all incidences where doping has been proven and a mechanism whereby cheating athletes would have to repay all financial gains going back to their last clean test. Athletes should also have to disclose sources of doping before they are allowed to return to competitive sport. The Government should review the experience of those countries which have criminalised doping in sport.

The recommendations come after a far-reaching inquiry into the use of human enhancement technologies which led the Committee to conclude that the official figures on the incidence of illegal doping may not be an accurate reflection of the scale of the problem. It would like to see more research into this.

The Committee is particularly concerned at the ease by which banned, and potentially dangerous, substances can be obtained for use by athletes. But it would also like better information to prevent athletes inadvertently taking banned drugs. There should be "clear reasoning" given by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) as to why substances and methods are on the prohibited list. More attention should be paid to the science behind which substances are included on the list.

Greater emphasis should also be paid to ensuring that all drugs allowed for therapeutic use are given on the grounds of real medical need.

In the run up to the 2012 Olympics the Committee would like to see science used to develop more sophisticated detection techniques, including testing blood samples as well as urine.

The Committee wants it to be mandatory for UK athletes to compete internationally in the 12 months prior to the games before they are eligible to take part, as this would make it easier to detect unusual increases on an athletes performance.

A separate body should be established to undertake drug testing of athletes in the UK independent of UK Sport and the national government bodies of individual sports. This should also be responsible for monitoring and evaluating potential new illegal substances and methods as they are developed.

The Committee also supports the idea of a pilot project looking at the feasibility of a doping passport.

Chairman of the Committee Phil Willis said: "Sport matters to people and any scandal associated with British sportsmen or women resonates way beyond the immediate sporting world. It can be a matter of national humiliation.

"The 2012 Olympics have given us the perfect opportunity to showcase the best of British sporting talent. We must not risk turning an occasion for national pride into one of embarrassment and disgrace. That is why the Government and the international sporting bodies concerned must do much more to identify and prevent doping scandals now."

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Notes to editors:

€ Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Science and Technology Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 19 July 2005.

€ This inquiry was announced on 1 March 2006 in Press Notice No 24 of session 2005-06.

€ Evidence sessions were held on Wednesday: 19 July 2006 when evidence was heard from: Mr Matthew Reader, Head of Elite Sports Team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr John Scott, Director of Drug Free Sport, and Ms Allison Holloway, Education Manager for Drug Free Sport, UK Sport; 25 October 2006 when evidence was heard from Professor Ian McGrath, University of Glasgow and Chairman of the Physiological Society, Mr John Brewer, Director of Sports Science and the Lucozade Sport Science Academy, GlaxoSmithKline, Dr Bruce Hamilton, Chief Medical Officer, UK Athletics and Dr Anna Casey, Research Fellow, QinetiQ; 29 November 2006 when evidence was heard from; Dr Richard Budgett, Chief Medical Officer, British Olympic Association, and Dr Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical Commission and Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) Medical Research Committee; and on Tuesday 12 December when evidence was heard from Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, Minister for Sport, Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Membership of the Committee

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Linda Gilroy (Lab/Co-op, Plymouth Sutton)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Chris Mole (Lab, Ipswich)
Mr Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree)
Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester, Blackley)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)