News 28th October 2015

PTG2015: Cuts may not affect UKAD’s detection of doping

Cuts to UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) budget may not necessarily affect its performance in detecting doping in sport, according to research detailed at Play The Game 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark. Also, as UKAD only reported 33 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) in the 2014/15 financial year, the actual impact on results is also likely to be low. However, athlete deterrence is an important part of anti-doping, and this could be hit by the perception of a softer regime, if the government introduces cuts as planned.

UKAD Chairman David Kenworthy told the BBC that UKAD would be “in jeopardy” if cuts of 25% to its budget are introduced, as planned, by the government. Specifically, he said that testing would have to be cut, as a standard urine test costs £371 and each standard athlete biological passport test costs £439.

However; “More money fails to give better anti-doping – it just creates more anti-doping”, said Carsten Martensen of Aarhus University, who has researched the annual reports that national anti-doping agencies (NADOs) are required to required to publish by Article 14.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code. He said that more money normally equals more tests, however his research revealed that a rise in doping positives doesn’t follow budget increases. In some cases, more funding doesn’t equal more tests, leading to questions over what budget increases are being spent on. As the picture above illustrates, more funding can often mean more jobs in doping.

Budget increases could be being spent on intelligence – now a requirement for NADOs under Article 15 of the World Anti-Doping Code, but not during Martensen’s period of research (2003-13). “I’d be horrified if we had to reduce our intelligence and investigations”, Kenworthy told the BBC. “Because we are dealing there with not just the athletes, but with the suppliers, the coaches, the people who are encouraging athletes to dope”.

Only two NADOs analysed by Martensen reported doping positives higher than 1%. Martensen’s research also revealed that many NADOs are not fulfilling their requirements under Article 14.4 of the Code to publish annual testing reports. As previously reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, his research also calls into question some of the testing statistics reported by NADOs. RUSASA reported 10,000 tests exactly for 2009, 15,000 tests exactly for 2010 and 20,000 tests exactly for 2011…

According to its Annual Report, UKAD spent £1.59 million on its contract with the Drug Control Centre, King’s College, London; plus £1.52 million on its athlete testing programme – a total of £3.11 million over the 2014/15 financial year. According to the quarterly testing figures on its internet site – which are also compiled over the financial year –  33 ADRVs were reported in 2014/15. This gives a return of £93,939 per ADRV.

According to the figures in the quarterly reports, UKAD carried out 7,643 tests in the 2014/15 financial year – however, in quarter one and two, UKAD refers to ‘missions’ rather than tests. It doesn’t define the difference between ‘missions’ and ‘tests’. This figure would mean that 0.43% of tests (or ‘missions’ in the case of quarters one and two) resulted in an ADRV. The real percentage return of ADRVs on tests could actually be lower, since a UKAD spokesperson confirmed that the figures include ADRVs “brought as a result of non-analytical findings”.

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