Over 3,000 British sportsmen and women to be sent questionnaires

UK Sport is about to embark on its largest ever survey of Britain’s sportsmen and women to determine their attitudes to drugs, the effectiveness of the testing programme and the relevance of education material. Over 3,000 questionnaires will be sent out, with the findings being used in the ongoing development of the UK’s national anti-doping programme.

The wide ranging survey includes questions on the testing procedures, frequency of testing, information resources and use of supplements. It also seeks to gauge competitors’ knowledge of current policies and procedures, and asks for suggestions on how the anti-doping programme could be enhanced.

John Scott, Director of Drug-Free Sport at UK Sport, said: “For an anti-doping programme to be a success, the views and needs of the athletes must be at its core. Through this survey we aim to ensure that competitors are aware of their responsibilities with regards to anti-doping, and have the necessary education and information to ensure they can make informed choices about competing drug-free.

“The feedback we gather from the survey will be particularly valuable in terms of furthering our education programme, which has benefited from a three-fold budget increase and has become a greater focus of our work. It will also help inform the development of our testing programme by collecting data on what level of testing is deemed to act as a suitable deterrent for competitors.”

The questionnaires are being sent to all athletes on UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme, along with competitors from all key spectator sports. Sportsmen and women from all four home countries, covering Olympic, Paralympic and professional sports, will be included in the survey.

“Conducting a survey on this scale would not be possible without the support of the sports, and we have been delighted with the buy-in we have had from all governing bodies,” said Scott. “Hopefully this enthusiasm will be reflected in the number of responses we get to the questionnaire.”

Among those to receive the questionnaire are footballers and cricketers. Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said: “Over the last few years, the Football Association and the PFA have developed a testing and education programme which is second to none when compared with our footballing counterparts across the world. However, we are not complacent and we realise there is always more that can be done.

“These programmes are carried out in co-operation with UK Sport and in order to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our procedures we are pleased to support this survey which will be sent to over 500 of our members. We would urge them all to take a few minutes of their time to fill it in, and help ensure that English football maintains its standing with regard to eliminating drugs from sport.”

Jason Ratcliffe, Director of Player Services for the Professional Cricketers’ Association, added: “Whilst cricket has not been a sport traditionally associated with drug misuse, it is important for us to ensure that everything possible is being done to ensure this remains the case. We can only do this effectively with the assistance of the players, who I hope take this opportunity to have their say.”

The questionnaire has been produced in association with 20/20 Research, an independent research company which will carry out the survey on behalf of UK Sport to ensure full confidentiality and anonymity. Results from the survey are expected to be published in May.

The announcement was made on the same day as UK Sport released the latest set of figures from the UK’s anti-doping testing programme, covering the period from 1 October-31 December 2004. During this period, 1,505 samples were collected across 25 sports. Almost 60% of these tests were conducted out-of-competition.

For the year to date (April-December 2004), a total of 4,336 tests have been carried out. Governing bodies receiving most tests during this time are the Football Association (910), UK Athletics (384) and British Swimming (254).

NOTES TO EDITORS

· UK Sport works in partnership to lead sport in the UK to world class success by supporting world class performance, worldwide impact and world class standards.

· In running the drug testing programme, UK Sport is responsible for the collection of samples, arranging the analysis of samples at a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory and reporting all test results to the appropriate governing body. UK Sport also runs a thorough education and information programme for athletes and their support staff.

· The quarterly figures released are for the period from October 2004 to December 2004 and are available to download from UK Sport’s website – http://www.uksport.gov.uk/. The data may include competitors tested on more than one occasion.

· UK Sport’s Drug Results Database includes details of all findings that have been through the entire disciplinary process since April 2003. Over time, this will build up into a full historical record of the testing programme. The database is searchable by date of test, sport, governing body, and class and substance of drug, and provides details of the sanctions handed out for doping offences. Outcome of Cases are added to the database within 20 days after it has been determined in a hearing that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred. This ensures compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. The Database is available at www.uksport.gov.uk/drd.

· More information is available via the website or by calling Russell Langley at the UK Sport press office: 020 7211 5108 / 07880 740772.