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Sport: Anti-doping

Volume 773: debated on Monday 23 May 2016

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in international co-operation on enforcing global standards in governance and anti-doping in sport.

My Lords, at the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption summit on 12 May, the International Sport Integrity Partnership was announced, to be launched in 2017. It will introduce a process for Governments, international sport organisations and relevant international organisations to develop a new partnership to strengthen efforts to tackle corruption in sport.

I thank the Minister for that Answer. Have the Government given any thought to giving active support to the suggestion by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Authority, that those who make money out of sport—that is, the broadcasters—should pay into a war chest which is not dependent on Governments, some of whom have been compromised?

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, makes a good point. It is important that all those who invest in sport are assured that it is clean and free of corruption. Commercial bodies have a role to play in ensuring that their funding is invested in a way that is beneficial to sport. The Government would welcome any move that looked at how commercial investment could be used to combat doping in sport.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that athletes who build up muscle by using steroids will have a permanent advantage in the future, and that therefore we will make no progress on this issue until those who are banned for cheating are banned for life?

My Lords, under the existing rules, a ban lasts for four years, which takes athletes out of an Olympic cycle. However, the main point here is that those who cheat, and the national bodies that are found to have cheated and not to have abided by the code of governance, will lose their funding.

My Lords, given that for some 30 years successive Governments have been seriously considering introducing legislation to tackle the scourge of doping in sport, does the Minister agree that we should follow the example of the Italians, the Dutch, the Australians, the Belgians and, earlier this year, the German Government, all of whom have introduced legislation to protect clean athletes against those who knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs to defraud their fellow athletes out of selection, medal prospects and, in many cases, their careers?

My Lords, my noble friend makes a very good point. Those who cheat do not deserve the medals that they have been awarded. As my noble friend will be aware, once cheats have been uncovered, Olympic Agenda 2020 allows those who were behind them in the race or in the swimming pool to receive those medals. As far as criminalisation is concerned, the review is continuing and we will report on it. We are also taking into account the review into what happened concerning the Sunday Times and UKAD. We will make sure that we make the right decision on criminalisation.

My Lords, the news from the anti-corruption summit is welcome but the timescales seem to be rather long. We are talking about getting a report agreed and in some sense implemented not until about 2018, whereas, as we have just heard, the problem is happening now. One concrete matter that we have raised before in this House—I did not get a very strong response from the Minister; he promised to write to me but I have not had a letter—is that we need to separate out the testing from the governing bodies that are responsible for it. At the moment, testing is done within the sport; it needs to be taken outside. Can he comment on that?

My Lords, I apologise that the noble Lord has not received that letter. The fact is that UKAD carries out the testing and is separate from the national sporting bodies. The noble Lord will be aware of the high regard in which UKAD is held throughout the world—it is used as a model in many other countries. As he will also know, at present UKAD is helping Russia to sort out its testing processes.