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What did we learn from UKAD’s 2021 Clean Sport at the Front Line?


UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) Clean Sport at the Front Line (CSFL) took place on 14 & 15 September 2021 online. 

The event was tailored towards practitioners in sport and was free to attend. More than 100 delegates attended on each day of the virtual event.  

This year’s CSFL2021 looked at the importance of clean sport education for athlete support personnel and coaches. The forum presented recent research studies into coach and athlete support personnel anti-doping knowledge. UKAD introduced their new Insight and Innovation Team, who will be leading the development of research into prevalence studies, drug detection, monitoring & evaluation and data analytics.

Guest speakers from academia and sports science provided insight into supplements and their risks, as well as the complexities of using Cannabidiols (CBD) in sport. Day 2 also welcomed discussions on para-athlete clean sport education. 

You can listen to the speakers from both day’s proceedings on UKAD’s YouTube channel

So what did our delegates learn? Check out our top three takeaways below… 

Clean sport education needs to be embedded into the fabric of coaching 

Coaches and athlete support personnel (ASP) are key influencers to athletes. Education research presented by Emma Bruning, Coach Education Consultant at Activ Blu, Leeds Beckett University and Claire Lane, Clean Sport Education Officer at UKAD highlighted the need for tailored clean sport education for coaching staff. 

Of the 341 coaches surveyed in the “Coach Clean” research study, 71% of coaches said they had received no formal clean sport education. 79% of this group were also unaware that clean sport education was available to them. 

This mirrors research studies on ASP. Both groups called for bitesize educational resources, tailored to their roles. Coaches overall feedback showed they were committed to keeping sport clean but wanted more support in improving their confidence of the clean sport programme. They were keen to learn more about the values of clean sport and how they can apply them to support their athletes and avoid potential anti-doping rule violations.  

Supplements are a complex risk in sport 

On Day 1 we heard from Terence O’Rorke of Informed Sport, who discussed how supplements can be a risk to inadvertent doping.  “A lack of clarity increases risks to athletes,” Terence stated when discussing the status of supplements.

Supplements are "big industry" and are supported by high profile athlete endorsements and sponsorships. Big marketing budgets, versus mixed messaging from the global anti-doping community creates a lack of clarity on the subject. We need to work together to ensure a clear message on supplements. 

Day 2’s speaker Professor Graeme Close of Liverpool John Moores University presented the “hot topic” CBD (cannabidiol), discussing the complexity of CBD's legal status as a supplement, and the risks involved in using it in sport. 

Professor Graeme Close reminded everyone that “a quick google search will bring up information telling you about the top 6 benefits of CBD to athletes. If athletes are reading this, is it any wonder that they may want to try it?”. 

Emily Robinson, Interim Chief Executive of UKAD reminded delegates of UKAD's mantra for supplement use “assess the need and assess the risk”.  

WADA have confirmed that it has endorsed a scientific review into cannabis’ status as a banned substance. Cannabis will remain on the Prohibited List in 2021 and 2022 while the review takes place. 

Tailored clean sport education programme for para-sports 

In an interactive panel session on day 2, panelists Professor Andrea Petroczi, (Kingston University), Paul O’Donovan (Sport Ireland), Ali Jawad (Para-Olympian Medallist and UKAD Athlete Commission), Dr Ian Boardley (University of Birmingham) debated anti-doping education for para-athletes. 

The group answered your questions on para clean sport education. There were a number of suggestions to improve clean sport education for para-athletes: 

  • Anti-doping organisations creating accessible information on the anti-doping code for para-athletes 
  • Practitioners to have requisite knowledge and training for clean sport education to para-athletes 
  • Education that is accessible and relevant to para-athletes

Ali Jawad said on clean sport education: “We need to have a definition of what clean sport is and then tailor the education from this. Scenario based education will definitely improve understanding of clean sport. Athletes will learn a lot more if it relates to their scenarios.”

Join us for Clean Sport Forum 

Clean Sport Forum is UKAD’s annual flagship conference and is a free to attend virtual event for members of the sport sector. Held over two days, the series of webinars will focus on UKAD’s work and hot topics in sport and anti-doping both domestically and internationally. 

Tuesday 12 October and Wednesday 13 October. 

Register for Clean Sport Forum

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