Anti-doping in sport

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place in London in July 2012, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous sport stars competing in our own backyard. Imagine the roar of the crowd inside the Olympic stadium as an athlete crosses the finish line or sharing a nation’s pride when their hero wins gold.

But what if your favourite athlete tested positive for a banned drug? How would you feel? Cheated? Disappointed?

This is why the UK has an anti-doping organisation committed to stopping the use of performance-enhancing drugs and keeping sport clean.

It’s a big task but one that UK Anti-Doping believes is possible through its wide-reaching anti-doping programme. This involves: education, scientific and medical research, intelligence-led drug testing and prosecution.

So how is it done?

Anti-doping education and support starts with young athletes, continuing right through to the elite stars looking to break records this summer. UK Anti-Doping delivers interactive education sessions to sports (featuring games and sometimes even a Weakest Link quiz) to equip athletes and support personnel with vital anti-doping knowledge.

Scientific experts conduct research and work with medical organisations to develop new testing methods and detect the most sophisticated ways of doping.

UK Anti-Doping works with law enforcement agencies (like the police) and other organisations to gather information about drug supply networks and athletes who may be cheating.

During a drug test, urine and/or blood samples are taken from an athlete. These are then analysed at a specialised anti-doping laboratory to look for banned drugs. During the Games 6,250 samples will be analysed in total – that’s over 400 a day!

Finally, any athlete found guilty of doping will be handed a ban.

More information about the fight against drugs in sport and how you can get involved can be found on UK Anti-Doping’s website here.

You too could be involved in working in anti-doping through a number of different careers:

• A laboratory analyst – analysing human urine and blood samples from a wide variety of sports
• An education officer – supporting athletes understand the importance of anti-doping throughout their careers
• An intelligence officer – collecting and analysing data to develop sophisticated techniques to tackle doping in sport
• A testing officer – using intelligence to plan drug-tests
• A scientist – conducting research to improve the delivery of anti-doping programmes
• A sports coach – supporting athletes develop to their full potential