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Sport: Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Volume 792: debated on Monday 23 July 2018


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will give assistance to the governing bodies of individual sports to take steps to identify and prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs in junior and amateur sport.

My Lords, the Government recognise the vital importance of protecting the integrity of sport, and that includes keeping sport free from the scourge of doping. UK Anti-Doping—UKAD—an arm’s-length body of DCMS, supports sports’ governing bodies with a wide range of measures. These include the development of athlete education programmes, public information campaigns on emerging threats to clean sport, and an active deterrent programme which includes anti-doping testing and individual athlete intervention tactics.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that encouraging reply. However, given that much of the information I have gathered on the subject shows that many part-time sportsmen are taking image as well as performance-enhancing drugs, will the Government consider putting pressure on certain TV programmes such as the all-pervading “Love Island”, in which many honed, buffed young bodies are shown to the general public, to make sure that these are all down to hard work and diet and not drugs?

I do not think “Love Island” has been officially classified as a sport yet. However, this is not the first time I have had to answer questions on “Love Island” and I take the noble Lord’s point. Image and performance-enhancing drugs, IPEDs, are a problem. UK Anti-Doping, the Government, educational authorities and sports’ governing bodies have to educate young people from an early age on the effects of these drugs and explain and inculcate a values-based system so that healthy nutrition, exercise, sleep and so on—healthy training, if you like—is the most important thing, not drugs.

My Lords, can the noble Lord elaborate on what international collaborative intelligence-gathering agreements are in place to monitor the distribution of IPEDs?

UK Anti-Doping is a subsidiary body of the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, and talks internationally. I do not know the specifics—I am not sure I necessarily want to comment—but it is an international effort to remove the scourge of doping at all international and national sporting events.

My Lords, is the Minister aware of the work of the Youth Sport Trust, which is particularly valuable in this area? As we know, nowadays sportsmen and women frequently appear in the honours lists which are released twice a year. It would be impossible to impose a condition, but might one suggest an expectation that those who are honoured in this way should offer themselves as role models, particularly in the field of discouraging performance-enhancing drugs.

My Lords, I cannot think of a better example than that of the noble Lord, as a 1964 Olympic sprinter: he proves the point that role models are very important. It is important that those who receive honours are suitably checked so that they behave correctly—that is, not only legally but also in an ethical and moral sense.

My Lords, we have rightly talked about education and we congratulate the Government on significantly increasing the amount of money available to UKAD. However, there is the whole question of anticipating the development of such practices and preventing them. Such briefing as I have been able to put together suggests that internationally, there is a movement of illicit drugs and substances across borders. Can the Minister help us to understand whether, after the momentous events we are about to experience in coming out of Europe, the sharing of intelligence and the availability of cross-border information will apply in this particular area of endeavour?

Criminal activities are subject to the negotiations that will take place and the Home Office is responsible for those. On doping in sport, we already have an international system based on WADA which I do not think will change just because we are coming out of Europe. This is an international problem that extends far beyond the borders of Europe. However, I take the noble Lord’s point that it is very important that we continue with that system and I see no reason why we should not be able to.

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that we need to ensure that we drive these drugs out of individual sports, both at amateur and professional level. It is important to drive them out of team sports as well, but it is also important that football clubs have grounds they can actually play at. Will the noble Lord take back to his honourable friend the Minister for Sport our thanks for her support for Dulwich Hamlet? However, the club is still locked out of its ground, and we are only allowed to play thanks to Tooting and Mitcham. We need further help to get back into our home ground at Champion Hill.

The answer is that I am delighted to take that message back—but it has absolutely nothing to do with doping in sport.