Question for Short Debate
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to prevent the use of image and performance enhancing drugs in amateur and junior sport.
My Lords, I put down this debate a good few months ago. The matters under discussion, and certainly my awareness of them, seem to have grown between then and now. I initially spoke about amateur sport and drug taking because I was receiving increasing amounts of information that amateur sport, and particularly rugby union, was finding an increasing number of people who were testing positive, particularly in the lower grades. I may be being a little unfair to my own sport, in which I still occasionally run out—although I have a nagging suspicion that the games I am playing in now are probably not the primary target for drug misuse at any level. However, it is a sport that encourages body mass, dynamic explosion and strength, as these are huge advantages when it is played at a competitive level.
The attitude of the sport seemed to be that it was not a big problem because it was all about gym bunnies who were into building themselves up, but that it was extending testing down the leagues. There are all sorts of implications of that: if it is only a few people and they are casual players, why are they putting in testing further down? Clearly there is a danger that drugs are getting into types of amateur sport. Some people have taken it seriously and put good programmes in place. Canoeing, rowing and cycling have been recommended to me and have been given a pat on the back from UK Anti-Doping.
As this debate approached and I started asking around for briefings, I got a series of communications from UKAD which made me think that my original title might be a little narrow. The only change I felt I could make was to add in image-enhancing drugs. I am talking about amateur sports, but it is quite clear that I am catching the edge of a bigger problem. Steroids, and other drugs like them, have become part of a fashion revolution to get people bigger and stronger. The easiest way to do that, and to enhance your image, is to use steroids. This affects sport in a certain way, but the evidence is incredibly difficult to gather. By its nature, these are amateur sportsmen who are not, in most cases, contractually bound. You cannot get at them; you cannot test them all the time; and a lot of the evidence is anecdotal.
What we have discovered is that the availability of performance-enhancing and image-enhancing drugs is incredibly wide—I would say almost endemic. You cannot go anywhere near this field without finding them available. I asked, but got very little support on, a question about the actual medical damage done to people who take them. When doing my own research, I discovered an article on a website which happened to be linked to somebody who was supplying drugs. It was very informative and said that oral steroids, in particular, are very bad for your kidneys and encourage cirrhosis of the liver: it is not surprising that they damage you. As I was going through the site, little flashes were coming up saying that somebody had purchased. There were three purchases in the London area in 10 minutes. So what comes across is how readily available these things are—and how it is almost impossible to find out what is going on. It is getting more complicated all the time; that is the problem we are hitting.
What can the Government do to support these sports and their governing bodies? It is clear that, at the moment, the huge amounts of money and effort that would be required for a coherent strategy are simply not available. Clubs often rely on amateur structures and they do not have the money to undertake coherent testing. They are dependent on the governing bodies, which would rather spend it on something else. How far down do you go? If casual use is coming in, what do you do? This is becoming incredibly difficult to play out. The only people who can take a coherent position at the top—on education, for a start—are the Government, and more has to be done.
There are lots of lists of nasty side-effects from acquiring muscle mass by using steroids and the other drugs that come into this. Acne is common for males and females; hair loss on the head; shrinkage of the genitals—not great fun; and the development of breasts. These are possibly not the best things to enhance your image. In the long term, and more seriously, there is an increased danger of heart attacks and kidney and liver failure. But there is still a lack of information behind simple statements that this is happening and this is nasty. We know that this type of campaign has to have something more behind it. You have to have somebody telling you that there is more to this and some way of enforcing compliance with sticks or carrots. At the moment there seems to be a combination of: “It’s somebody else’s problem; it’s not really us; we haven’t found anything”—though all the information suggests that you are not finding it because you have no way of testing and nobody has the incentive to look that hard and find out what is going on—and, “It’s too difficult”. Unless more information is made available about the damage being done, such as platelets in the blood causing heart attacks and strokes, you will not have an effective tool to get on the education pathway.
Another problem is that many of these drugs are taken by injection. All the problems associated with injecting any form of drug then come into play. Hepatitis C, HIV, you name it: everything that is tied in with needle sharing is there. There are also behavioural problems— “roid rage”, I think it is called—and a great increase in the amount that people drink when they take steroids. So it is a confused picture.
I now come to probably the only bit that might get reported, which is the fact that gym culture is being personified and built up in the public mind. There comes a time when certain TV programmes capture the national zeitgeist or are seen to be the symbol of everything that is wrong; I am afraid that “Love Island”, on ITV, seems to be the one that has got us here. So far, we have had complaints here, which have been followed through and acted on, about selling plastic surgery and excessive smoking on the programme. But it also personifies the gym and “body beautiful” culture that we have been talking about. UKAD wrote to the producers on 2 August of this year to ask what they were going to do about it, because one contestant on the programme, Frankie Foster, had been banned from playing rugby because of a doping offence. To date it has still not received a reply. Surely the Minister can tell us what the Government are doing to encourage those TV producers and everybody else to intervene there.
If you are saying that it is great to go for the gym body look, with everything else—often you will have to take other drugs to cover up some of the side-effects of the steroids or other bodybuilding drugs you are using—surely that cannot be right. We are just starting to see the tip of this situation. Can we please find out what the Government are doing to try to get further into it?
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Addington, for raising this vitally important area of key sports policy.
Your Lordships may recall that at the time of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, Tina and Chris Dear set up the Matthew Dear Foundation. Tina Dear focused on the fact that any parent with a child who takes anabolic steroids should be aware that the drugs can be highly dangerous and addictive. Long-term use can lead to aggressive behaviour, mood swings, liver or kidney tumours, strokes, heart attacks, or worse. Tina Dear knows just how devastating the drugs can be. Her son Matthew was 17 when the young cadet started taking steroids in an attempt to “bulk up” and become a Royal Marine, but within weeks, he was dead. While the post-mortem was inconclusive, Tina believed that the muscle-building drugs, which he bought illegally, caused his brain to swell. He died just three months before he could take the selection test.
There have been many such deaths: drugs taken to enhance performance without proper medical supervision, taken through drug rings around body-building gymnasiums. Tina Dear said:
“It just makes you realise that the message needs to be put out there that these drugs are dangerous. A lot of these youngsters who take steroids don’t see them as drugs—they think they’re some kind of supplement and don’t see them as dangerous. It’s important to raise awareness and show these youngsters they can still achieve the body they want the healthy, natural way, without steroids”.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, has highlighted the importance of that issue. Tina and her husband now run the Matthew Dear Foundation, which does vitally important work for hundreds of young people who have suffered as a result of taking a range of performance-enhancing drugs.
I will pick up on one of the points the noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned, by looking at the academic work that has been done to emphasise just how serious this issue has become. The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids—AASs, as they are called—by professionals and recreational athletes is increasing, not just in this country but worldwide. The underlying motivations are, as the noble Lord said, mainly performance enhancement and body image. AAS-using athletes frequently present with psychiatric symptoms and disorders, mainly somatoform and eating disorders, but also mood and schizophrenia-related disorders. They are also unfortunately linked to psychotic behaviour the length and breadth of this country. In fact, AAS use is no longer limited to a small number of athletes, bodybuilders or weightlifters, but currently extends to the general population, including young people, probably because of the highly competitive nature of school and college sport. In the States, Welder and Melchert reported that over half a million high school students have taken AASs for non-medical purposes. This raises serious concerns regarding the numerous adverse effects of these substances.
There are many such cases. The facts, as evidenced by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, are that steroids have increasingly become the key issue for young men, who have gained access to them over the internet. The council has gone so far as to call for a ban on their sale from the hundreds of overseas websites that deliberately target users across Britain. Chief drugs adviser Professor Les Iversen says:
“At the moment, information is much too easily available. The material available online is often contaminated”,
which of course is dangerous in its own right. If you search online, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has, and I did earlier today once again, you will see endless offers. As Professor Iversen says, a ban on importation,
“would have a considerable dampening effect on demand”.
I understand that it may be difficult to enforce, but it would act as a simple deterrent.
These steroids are manufactured to mimic the effect of the male hormone testosterone, and are taken to increase muscle mass and athletic performance. As I said, they can be highly addictive, and many of the performance-enhancing substances can also have serious side-effects, including infertility, an increased risk of prostate cancer, splayed teeth, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, and tumours. They can also cause mood swings and hallucinations.
Even here, figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, published by the Home Office, estimate that 50,000 people in the UK use steroids to train harder and quickly build muscle. But researchers quite rightly claim that the real number could be far higher, because many people do not openly admit to using them. The real growth has come in young users who want to improve their body image, and steroids sit in the legal grey area between a medicine and a banned recreational drug.
Again, that point of body image was picked up by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, when he referred to the 2018 season of “Love Island”, which featured, as he mentioned, Frankie Foster, a former rugby player, now a fitness coach and a star on the show, who was previously banned for 18 months from his sport for having tested positive for steroids. Television has a vital role to play, and a responsibility. It must understand that the impact this programme unwittingly has to date is to develop role models not to inspire good example, but in this case to damage lives.
To come back to sport, the rugby union point is important, and it is the area where we have the highest number of image and performance-enhancing drugs—IPED—cases. UKAD is doing excellent work in this area. It recognises that a key area in the anti-doping landscape is the risk and vulnerability surrounding young athletes transitioning to senior sport from the amateur ranks. Of course, many of those in transition are in higher education or universities, and too often, university gyms are the breeding grounds for banned performance-enhancing drugs. Many are unsupervised, with poor educational programmes, easy access to the drugs, a near total absence of spot testing, a lack of education and poor medical advice. They are the breeding grounds for far too many young people who want to migrate into the professional ranks of sport. They are also exceptionally dangerous, because in many respects, the lack of education means that the opportunity to access contaminated drugs is increased.
UKAD has a very good programme, called the Clean Sport Accreditation Scheme, which recognises higher and further education institutions that meet a set of minimum standards towards their anti-doping obligations. But only three universities are currently fully accredited, with an additional 25 colleges and universities in the accreditation process. I ask the Minister—not necessarily in his response, but following this debate—to look at whether more work can be done and more funding supported and directed towards this initiative, because there is a need to prioritise the work that UKAD is doing with universities in this area.
I have often argued—and I take this opportunity again to make the point—that using performance-enhancing drugs in sport should be a criminal offence, and should apply as a criminal offence only in circumstances where an athlete knowingly takes a prohibited substance with the intention of enhancing his or her performance, or where a member of an athlete’s entourage encourages or assists an athlete in taking such a substance. Both the criminal offence and any sporting sanctions should apply simultaneously. This aims to enhance drug-free sport and create an awareness among young people that, if they start taking performance-enhancing drugs, they face potential criminal sanctions. It also would create a level playing field among athletes and would move English law into line with other European countries and fully recognise—as many people on all sides of this House recognise—that doping in sport to achieve competitive advantage through cheating is no different to defrauding a fellow athlete and should be covered by the same criminal sanctions as those applicable to fraud.
Finally, I ask the Minister wherever possible to highlight the importance of clean athletes being party to this debate. Beckie Scott, athlete committee chair for the World Anti-Doping Agency—WADA—claimed recently that she was bullied by Olympic movement officials at the meeting that saw WADA controversially reinstate Russia. It is vital that there be no opportunity, ever, for bullying members of athletes’ commissions at whatever level—governing bodies, the International Olympic Committee or indeed WADA. I hope the Minister can fully support Beckie Scott and, through her, all athletes who want to participate fully and to be listened to in this critically important debate.
I too thank my noble friend Lord Addington for instigating this debate. I will say at the outset that I am not going to use acronyms if I can help it.
I visit many schools and academies delivering the Lord Speaker’s Peers in Schools outreach programme, and one of the questions I am asked by young people is: what is the relevance of this House? It is shown in debates such as this and other debates that touch on the uncomfortable aspects of society—subjects that Parliament tends puts in the “too hard to do” box, which we take on and deal with. An example was last year’s debate on sexual abuse in sport; a difficult debate to listen to. In that debate, I highlighted the cases of footballers—David White, Paul Stewart and Ian Ackley to name but three—who had come forward and told their stories. Following a mammoth police investigation, the instigator Barry Bennell received a 30-year prison sentence. We can help to make a difference.
Today we ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to prevent the use of image and performance-enhancing drugs in amateur and junior sport. The reasons for the use of such drugs are many and varied for our young citizens: poor self-image; the need to fit in; peer pressure from the constant barrage of instant news from Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms I have probably never heard of; the need always to feel perfect, with perfect body image, whatever that is—I have absolutely no knowledge. In my view, “Love Island” has exacerbated the situation, as has previously been commented on. Allowing someone who has been convicted of a drug offence to portray on television to millions of impressionable young people a vision of what they mistakenly think they should look like in order to be accepted in today’s society does not create an appropriate role model. That needs to be dealt with.
There was a very interesting debate on knife crime last Thursday in this House. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, told us:
“In 2010, £1.2 billion was spent across the country on youth work and youth services. Last year that had fallen to £358 million: a 68% cut. Other public services, such as probation, that help to reduce the risk of crime or support young people have suffered similarly, as has the funding available to charities and the voluntary sector. Our social fabric is being stretched so thin that it has become almost transparent”.—[Official Report, 29/11/18; col. 773.]
It cannot be a coincidence: along with the reduction in support for young people, the use of image and performance-enhancing drugs and steroids has doubled or even trebled over the last few years. Our young people need real support, positive role models and a strategy that goes right back to the heart of family life and self-worth; in short, a truly holistic approach, not just a sticking plaster of one short-term fix after another.
Linford Christie, who served a two-year drugs ban from athletic competition, said that athletics,
“is so corrupt now I wouldn’t want my child doing it”.
That is a damming indictment, one we must challenge and change.
The BBC did a survey of 1,000 members of sports clubs and the results are truly frightening. Some 26% say they have previously consumed prescribed medications such as cortisone injections, or used asthma inhalers, to support their performance. One in seven, 14%, of sports club members say they have used recreational drugs for the same purpose, while 8% say they have used anabolic steroids. A sizeable proportion of sports clubs report that performance-enhancing drugs are frequently used and easily available. Some 50% of sports club members agree that taking substances which improve performance is widespread among people who play competitive sports, while the same proportion agree that performance-enhancing drugs are easily available for people who play sports regularly. To me, this survey is doubly worrying. It is not only about the percentages of drugs being used but the environment in which they are used, in the heart of our communities: sports clubs—places where our young people should be safe while taking their first steps in sport they love.
However, the problem is much larger than that. We usually associate certain sports with drug-taking: athletics, cycling and weightlifting. But now you can add to that list golf, show-jumping and—to the disgust of the noble Lord, Lord Addington—rugby. And the evidence jumps to another level: orchestra musicians are even taking blockers to prevent stage fright.
It is not too late to intervene: we must deal with the issue of steroids freely available online and the seemingly endless supply of drugs available to people of all ages, in particular impressionable young citizens who see it as the shortcut to success. I meet lots of young people who are fantastic, clean and desperate to do well in life and in sport, but we have too many too close to the edge. Now is the time for Government to step up and give them a real chance.
My Lords, we can only be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, for his perseverance in this cause. I have had occasion, as others have, of reading the Library briefing, and the piece de resistance was the debate in late 2015 when the noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, laid out the case perfectly. In a sense, all we need to do is resurrect what was said then in such an authoritative way. The Government in their response made it clear that they are aware of the seriousness of this question and are anxious to address it as creatively and as generously as they can.
In reading about all this I did not want to go over the ground so ably covered before me in so far as this problem affects sporting practitioners. For the very first time in my life, I read one of the annals of epidemiology—the things you get drawn to by membership of this House. One long article states that this is the very first meta-analysis of the global lifetime prevalence rate of anabolic-androgenic steroid use. I cannot oblige the wish expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Goddard, to avoid acronyms. I think that AAS is what that will have to be from now on.
However, the findings in that article suggest that the use of AAS is more prevalent among teenagers than among those older than 19 and that non-medical use of these steroids has steadily increased in recent years. Indeed, it has become a major global public health problem that requires the attention of policymakers and researchers. However, it is the spread from the focused sporting evidence to something rather more general that has really caught my attention.
When looking at the material put our way by UKAD, which is concerned with the use of drugs in sport, I found myself looking most specifically at the fact that it has found users as young as 14 indulging in these substances. The fact that we cannot yet control the internet sufficiently makes it possible for young people to access these drugs. As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, injecting has become normalised.
It is disturbing that UKAD sets out the programmes for dealing with the problem. For the 16 to 24 age group, there is a programme with gyms and leisure centres in mind; for the 16-plus age group, there is a programme with university and colleges of education in mind; for those aged 14 to 18, there is the Clean Games Policy, for use in major sporting events; for children of 11 to 16 years of age, there is Think Real, delivered in PE lessons with the collaboration of Sport England; and for those aged 10 to 14, in years 7 to 10 in schools, the Get Set for the Spirit of Sport material is taught in the classroom. What worries me is the fact that all those strands of educational initiative have clearly been devised in response to what is perceived as a prevalent problem.
I was surprised to see turn up on my desk material from the Welsh Rugby Union, with its anti-doping protocol and guidance. We know that rugby lends itself to a massing of the body, and there is a great temptation for those who want to get on in the professional game to resort to that. However, in its protocol and guidance the WRU targets under-15 squads of amateur players, who are beginning to get the idea that using these drugs and massing their bodies in this way will help them when one day they turn to a more representative form of playing the game.
Out of all this, and without repeating what others have said, I have become aware of something that I want to leave as my contribution to this debate. I have been standing in this position at the Dispatch Box for only a few months and we have discussed doping in sport more than once, as well as how it affects children. Only a year ago, the Minister and I, together with my dear friend Wilfred—my noble friend Lord Stevenson—were engaged endlessly in discussing the Data Protection Bill, which became an Act. Significant parts of that legislation had children and the internet in mind, and a number of amendments were framed to help deal with the problem of children being exposed to possible misuse of the internet.
Only a month ago, I stood here talking about children and gambling, and the way that the advertising industry and television target children by exploiting their interest in sport and other events. I think that the number of children quoted was half a million. So children feature across all those fronts. We have also just heard about a debate that took place here last week on the subject of knife crime—again, involving teenagers—and only yesterday the head of Ofsted talked about obesity among children, as well as knife crime and bullying.
In all those things, I see a common thread. There is a need to take the specificity of this debate and incorporate it holistically with all the other concerns that have been expressed in this Chamber in recent times, recognising that perhaps the time has come for us to look generically at how the needs of children are addressed. The Children Act 1989 was a great step forward and a real turning point, and it seems that we are now ready to look generically at this question all over again. Therefore, I am delighted that my noble friend Lady Armstrong of Hill Top has tabled a debate for two weeks on Thursday that will simply ask us to look at the state of young people in our society today. It sounds vacuous and general but it could be the key to entering this very necessary area of consideration, looking at the needs of children in general across these fronts so that they might again just enjoy being young.
My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Addington, for introducing this debate on image and performance-enhancing drugs. I think that it has moved on beyond that to a certain extent, and the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, ended up with a more generic view of children. I shall come back to some of those points.
This is a reasonably easy debate to answer because I agree with practically everything that all noble Lords have said. I hope that I shall be able to show not only that we agree with many of the points that have been made but that we are doing something about them. When I say we, I mean we as a Government, because UK Anti-Doping is an arm’s-length body of the DCMS, which is how we promote work in this area.
Like all noble Lords who have spoken, we recognise how important it is not only to protect the integrity of sport, which includes our commitment to keeping sport free from doping, but to protect people from the negative influences outside sport that could cause them harm. As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned, many young people who watch shows such as “Love Island” could be influenced by images of—how shall I put it?—apparent aesthetic perfection. These unrealistic portrayals of how the average healthy person is supposed to look could well be a reason for the increase in the use of image and performance-enhancing drugs. I will come back to “Love Island” in a minute.
The growth of social media has played a part in making young people feel under more pressure than ever about how they look and to perform at the highest level possible. UK Anti-Doping, an arm’s-length body of DCMS that is widely thought of as one of the world’s leading national anti-doping organisations, is working closely to combat this new trend. As has been said, the majority of anti-doping rule violations in the UK arise as a result of IPED use, particularly steroids. Of the 27 violations published by UKAD, 19 were related to IPEDs. Rugby union players were involved in the largest number of cases, which was as many as boxing and athletics combined.
Tackling the use and sale of IPEDs is part of the Home Office drug strategy, which states that it will take,
“coordinated action working with key partners … and independent experts to better understand the IPED using population”.
In relation to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, it goes on to say that it will,
“raise awareness of the risks of IPED use, including the spread of blood borne infections; support local areas to respond effectively; and take action as necessary to disrupt the supply of IPEDs and any associated criminality”.
In direct answer to the Question on the Order Paper from the noble Lord, Lord Addington, perhaps I can mention some of the measures being taken by UKAD to tackle the use of IPEDs through its various educational programmes. Earlier this year, DCMS led a tailored review of UKAD. One of the outcomes involved UKAD looking further into the health harms associated with the abuse of IPEDs. This was movingly mentioned by my noble friend Lord Moynihan, who gave a specific example. I am therefore delighted that we managed to secure additional funding of £6.1 million to help UKAD carry out the recommendations in the tailored review.
Education and promoting a culture of clean sport in youth sport is important, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths. UKAD had a presence at this year’s School Games, attending with national trainers to educate on the values of sport, anti-doping rules and responsibilities, and to give young athletes an insight into the testing process via a mock testing scenario. In accordance with UKAD’s clean games policy, all British athletes attending the Youth Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games undertake mandatory specific education to support them through the anti-doping procedures during major games. As the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, mentioned, UKAD has other schemes for even younger audiences, such as Get Set for the Spirit of Sport, a classroom-based education syllabus for children aged 10 to 14, and Think Real, a more advanced scheme for 11 to 16 year-olds. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths: the fact that we are having to provide such schemes for children of that age is itself worrying.
UKAD offers a free online accredited adviser course, which is promoted through the national governing bodies, to provide those working with junior and amateur athletes the training required to be able to support athletes and their coaches in their anti-doping responsibilities. For a broader audience, Clean Sport Week in May was a public awareness campaign with the objective to educate athletes on the risks of using sports nutrition supplements. As has been highlighted in the debate, uneducated use of supplements is prevalent in amateur sport and presents heightened risks to amateur athletes. The campaign also used social media to better engage younger athletes. It was a partnership with national governing bodies and sports bodies, including the Rugby Football Union.
Several noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Moynihan talked about gym culture. UKAD recently agreed a research project partnership with ukactive, aimed at giving a clearer understanding of image and performance-enhancing drug use in gyms and leisure centres.
We believe that responses and action from a range of stakeholders are required to make an impact. That is why the Government have set up a working group for agencies to come together for the co-ordination of a prevention strategy. The group has a strong cast list, including devolved public health agencies, the National Crime Agency, the Home Office, the police, the Department of Health and the Department for Education among others. A meeting was held in September, and included a session on sharing activities, initiatives and the views of partners on IPEDS to help gauge the next steps on how best to integrate information and education on the associated health harms and risks. The Home Office, Public Health Wales and the Scottish Government agreed to share data on IPED use, which UK Anti-Doping will analyse to give the working group a steer on how best to target users and potential users outside sport.
I realise that there is a surprising interest on the Liberal Democrat Benches in “Love Island”. Noble Lords will remember the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Storey, about smoking on “Love Island” after which it was banned in public places on the island, so it is true that highlighting the problems can have beneficial effects. But more seriously, because there is a valid point here, my answer to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, is the same as I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Storey. Editorial decisions such as drug testing on future contestants is up to the individual broadcaster. But broadcasters should be aware—I am sure they are—that they must adhere to Ofcom’s broadcasting code, which includes standards to ensure that under-18s are protected in relation to content dealing with drugs, smoking, solvents and alcohol. The illegal use and abuse of drugs,
“must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised in other programmes likely to be widely seen, heard or accessed by under-eighteens”.
As the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, UK Anti-Doping wrote in support of co-operation with the producers of these shows. I have seen a copy of the letter. I believe that noble Lords have not received a reply. Of course, is not for us to tell ITV how to answer letters, but it is a common courtesy to reply to a letter. I am sure that it will pay attention to that view.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan talked about UKAD’s clean sport accreditation, which I am aware of. I certainly agree with my noble friend that it is another example of positive work from UKAD in this area. It is for UKAD to decide where to allocate its funding, but I have taken on board my noble friend’s point and I will take it back. He also mentioned that we should ban imports. UK Border Force seized 5.2 million doses of anabolic steroids in 2016-17, an increase on the 4.9 million seized in the previous year. I mentioned the controlled drugs strategy published by the Home Office, which is reflective of the IPED challenge.
I nearly always agree with my noble friend, but we have talked about criminalisation before. The Sports Minister commissioned a review into the criminalisation of doping, which reported last year. Following the period of consultation, the review ultimately found that there was no compelling case to criminalise the act of doping in the UK. That reflected the strong consensus of those interviewed. But I accept and agree with his suggestion that it constitutes fraud on other competitors and probably sponsors, which may be a way forward.
My noble friend also asked whether I would agree that athletes should be involved in the process and in particular he mentioned Beckie Scott in WADA. I broadly support my noble friend’s comments regarding taking the views of athletes more seriously. Athletes know their sport and they know what is going on in many cases, and they should at the very least be part of the drive for clean sport. It is important that WADA is doing all that it can to restore faith in clean sport for both athletes and fans around the world.
The noble Lord, Lord Goddard of Stockport, mentioned role models. I also mentioned that in response to a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell. I agree that role models are important and it is important for athletes to be encouraged to educate and inform young people about clean sport.
The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, raised the question of children, not just in sport but in the Data Protection Act, gambling and advertising. In a way, it is beyond the scope of this debate and of this Minister to decide whether to look again at the Children Act, but I take his point. There are many areas of policy in which children are very important. I have another Question about children tomorrow, so I am sure that he will be in the Chamber for that.
I am grateful for all contributions. In outlining the Government’s actions, I hope that I have assured noble Lords that the Government will be working closely with all the necessary stakeholders to ensure that work is done to prevent, educate and, I hope, to protect.