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UK Coaching Team
Improving Physical Ability

How to Create an Anti-Doping Culture

Doping has a significant place in the news agenda in the build-up to every Olympic and Paralympic Games. Scott Allen discovers what coaches can do in the face of this global problem

A whirlwind of testing allegiations and sanctions have besmirched the reputations of several countries' athletes and sporting federations. In the run up to Rio 2016, reigning Olympic silver-medallist Maria Sharapova was banned for two years after a positive test for meldonium. Meanwhile, Russia was banned from international athletics competitions following evidence of state-sponsored doping. Finally, retrospective testing in 2016 uncovered 23 failed tests at London 2012 involving six different countries and a further 31 from 2008 in Beijing.

The spotlight tends to fall on the athletes and governing bodies of sport when allegations surface. But coaches and Athlete Support Personnel can be sanctioned for five of the ten different anti-doping rule violations in the World Anti-Doping Code. These include:

  • tampering
  • possession
  • trafficking
  • administration
  • complicity.

The coach’s role

Senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University Dr Laurie Patterson has conducted detailed research on anti-doping practices in coaching. “Much of the research into drugs use in sport is obviously focused on the athlete,” she explains. “The coach's voice hasn’t been heard.

Coaches have shown an interest in raising their anti-doping awareness. However, they don’t want to know the exact substances and the derivatives that are banned, they want the broader headers of what substances their athletes will come across and might be more predisposed to taking. They acknowledge that information on anti-doping websites is very useful, but they’d like to hear from other practising coaches who have dealt with similar scenarios. They want to learn from experience and not necessarily just the hard science.”

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