Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 366-379)

4 MAY 2004

Ms Sue Campbell CBE, and Mr John Scott

  Q366 Chairman: Good morning and welcome. We are delighted to see you. I do not know whether on the previous occasion you came we had occasion to congratulate you on the conclusion of the Honours List, but in any case there is no harm in congratulating you again. Thank you very much indeed.

  Ms Campbell: Thank you very much.

  Q367 Chris Bryant: Do you understand why Rio Ferdinand was not escorted from the moment that he knew that he had a test until the moment that the test should have been performed?

  Mr Scott: The procedure was the procedure that is in agreement between ourselves and the Football Association. The rules that pertained at that point in time, which have obviously been reviewed now through the code review, were those that have been applied over all the tests we have undertaken for football. The notification was given in accordance with those rules and Rio, as an experienced football player, would have known what the rules were.

  Q368 Chris Bryant: But it seems a bit crazy, does it not, because we have heard from the Winter Olympics that the moment you know that you are going to be tested you may be an hour, not likely to be much longer than that, and somebody stays with you all the way through the award ceremony, whereas, as far as we can see, in the case of Rio Ferdinand we have got the club doctor trying to find him in the changing room, finding him in the changing room and then running around other parts of the building, talking to his driver, a whole series of different events and they cannot find the chap?

  Mr Scott: As I say, those were the rules that pertained at the time which were negotiated between UK Sport and the Football Association in administering that programme. In the last three months we have had very positive discussions with the Football Association about changing those rules just to make sure that we are code-compliant, because we now have a code which makes it very clear what that chain of events should be, and that will be one area that will be changed.

  Chris Bryant: It will be changed?

  Chairman: Could I just say this so that we can proceed in decent order, namely, I know that Chris wanted to put a question of this kind to the FA, but this is a matter for the FA rather than UK Sport. Secondly, we had a private session with the FA, and I think it is very important indeed for colleagues to distinguish in their minds what we were told in the private session from what took place in the public session, because that is only courteous and fair to the FA.

  Q369 Chris Bryant: I presume that means I am not allowed to pursue that line of questioning, so I shall move on to something else. Anti-doping hearings. Different sports have different systems, and some people have argued that there should be exactly the same system for everybody in the country. The FA said earlier this morning in public that they have a system where the football club can provide the support for the player whilst somebody else plays the prosecuting role, whereas that is not available to smaller sports; and we had previous evidence in a different session where people said that the difficulty was one person could be both supported and prosecuted by their own sporting body. What do you think should change, if anything?

  Ms Campbell: Two things, before I let John give you the more technical answer. First of all, the World Anti-Doping Code will help us systematise and regulate much more what does happen sport by sport, and clearly we are in the process of beginning to implement that effectively across all sports. Secondly, I think the issue you are raising is a very important one. Clearly we are not in a position to tell sport how to conduct their business. We work in partnership with sports. However, we would like to set up an independent resolution panel which provides those sports which need it with an alternative to actually conducting the hearing themselves. However, it is not our job to impose that. It is, however, our job to ensure that the policy guidelines set down by the World Anti-Doping Code are applied systematically so that all athletes get a fair hearing.

  Mr Scott: I think one of the clarifications that needs to be made is that the World Anti-Doping Code to which all these sports are now subscribing does allow a twin-track solution. It allows either the establishment of an independent hearing and appeals process that sports can use or the application of the principles of an independent hearing and appeals process within the sport; and this is the route that FIFA and the FA are likely to go down for the very reasons you have just described: they have the resources, they have the experience to do it, but that is not to say their process does not fulfil the absolute requirements of the WADA code principles, it is just that the practice of implementing it will be slightly different.

  Q370 Chris Bryant: WADA may be changing their rules on out of competition testing for illegal substances: cocaine, marijuana and so on. Do you think those should be prescribed on the list, or not?

  Mr Scott: I think this is an issue that is of great debate. Our position when this was debated was that the testing for what are called recreation substances was of very questionable value, but in competition there is clearly a risk to your competitors. Some of the recreational drugs can actually act as a masking agent perhaps to other substances, so in competition we would argue there is a relevance for testing for recreational drugs. Outside of that, clearly athletes, like any other member of society, come into contact with these drugs on a regular basis, and I think that is why we have been very encouraged by the programme that the FA, for example, have applied with recreational drugs, which is to do with dealing with the problem, offering advice and guidance. They are looking for therapy for these young people to bring them back into society in a meaningful way.

  Q371 Chris Bryant: On the issue of supplements and over the counter medicinal drugs, do you think that it is important, or for that matter desirable, that we do move to some kind of international kite-mark so that it is very clear to people what is usable and not usable?

  Mr Scott: Supplements is incredibly complex, as I am sure you picked up during this inquiry, which I think has been very helpful because it has thrown a number of these issues on the table. There is not a very quick fix for this, unfortunately, because giving a kite-mark to the manufacturer of the supplement is not necessarily the answer because quite often it is the manufacturer of the raw material that is used in the production of the supplement which is where the problem lies. So you have got the chain of supply, which is absolutely critical to be assured of that. The biggest problem we have in addressing this is that the size of the market that the supplements represent for high performance sport is relatively small and the costs of instituting that level of ISO accredited process is very, very high, so the likelihood of the industry going with it is very slim, but you are absolutely right that it would have to be done at the international level to be effective.

  Q372 Derek Wyatt: Can I pick up on the kite-mark issue? Is there not a way that the UK could do this independently of anybody else whereby, rather than the ISO, they put on a colour-coding so that green be careful, orange getting dangerous, but red is awful? So that you could do that?

  Mr Scott: There has been talk about running a test on the products that are on the market. As I say, the difficulty is that you cannot actually verify the purity of one batch to the next batch. This is the problem. So our case has always been that athletes should avoid supplements because the strict liability has to be in the founding principle of any anti-doping programme. Unless you are going to have that totally integrated supply, manufacture, accredited ISO standards, you are not going to be able to give the kind of guarantee that is required for the athlete with that strict liability clause.

  Q373 Derek Wyatt: Last week I made some remarks about Michele Verroken. Could you reassure me that the way in which she was dealt with was correct in the sense that she had had warnings, in other words, you carried out her sacking correctly? Can you reassure us on that?

  Ms Campbell: I think, Derek, I would want to say that when I came in to carry out the reform the whole reform process is both challenging and, clearly, it is about reforming the organisation and ensuring that whatever decisions are taken are taken in the wider and best interests of the way that organisation operates and runs. Discussions with Michele were very forthright. I think that we parted company with Michele, and we have a letter which says that we parted, with mutual consent. We have parted company on that basis and there is a compromise agreement signed by both parties.

  Q374 Derek Wyatt: Thank you for clearing that issue. I have asked this of other people. Drugs is not new. I did the David Jenkins film in 1988. Before that, certainly on the Tour de France, we had known it for 25 years. Is there a way, do you think, that they can legally snare—snare is perhaps too strong a word—lay the blame also at the coach or make the coach responsible too for the athletes and therefore make the coach and the national body responsible, or do you think that is too difficult and too legally complex.

  Ms Campbell: I think at this moment the athlete is the person who ultimately is responsible for what is taken into their body. However, I think the point you are making, which is can we do more through performance directors and our coaches to ensure that our athletes are properly supported and that the advice they are getting is of the highest standard, yes, I am sure we can. Indeed, as we move forward with the reform programme, one of the things we are going to do is put a great deal more investment into the people around the athlete, whether that is sports scientists, medics, nutritionists, coaches, to ensure that they are of the highest world-class standard and operating to the highest ethical standards, but right now the liability rests directly with the athlete.

  Q375 Derek Wyatt: There is some concern that Montgomery and Jones, the American runners, are connected to one coach who seems to take an issue about how far you can push by using supplements. That seems to have been the case before. In Ben Johnson's case it was not just Ben Johnson, it was also those associated with him. We have got the evidence, as it were. Why can we not be stronger, and, if it is not for us to be, why cannot WADA or the IOC make a regulation?

  Ms Campbell: Again, we in this country do not have a licensing scheme for coaches nationally. Individual governing bodies have licensing schemes. Clearly the case you are outlining, should it be proven, would be a case for withdrawing a coach's licence. I think we are moving over the next few years to a new national coaching certificate which is the first step toward a national licensing programme. That will allow us to take much tougher stance, not only on these kinds of issues, but on issues around child protection and other issues where right now it is quite difficult to withdraw somebody's licence to operate if they do not have a licence in the first place.

  Q376 Derek Wyatt: How long is the timeframe before we have that here?

  Ms Campbell: The first 20 sports will be through the National Coaching Certificate in the next couple of years, and we are moving very rapidly to a much more systematic way of tracking coaches; and clearly this whole area of drug abuse is one of a number of major ethical issues we have to ensure are properly enshrouded within the work of a coach, and I think all of us who are working in coach education are committed to making sure coaches are working to the highest ethical standards.

  Mr Scott: Chairman, there is now a specific reference, as you know, in the World Anti-Doping Code to the entourage that surrounds an athlete with the ability to prosecute them, with sanctions where the evidence is available, but this requires the athlete to own up to that and give you the evidence, because it has to be evidence-based, but there is now a process by which coaches, anybody who is supporting athletes who is involved in drugs, can be prosecuted.

  Q377 Chairman: You are probably better placed to put this question to than anybody else, and in a sense it could be regarded as a philosophical comment, but it has very serious practical implications. On the one hand, one could say that it is unfair on young people who decided that their role in life is participating in sport to impose upon them being a role model, but there are thousands and thousands of people who just want to run, or swim, or row, or play football and that is all they want but, on the other hand, particularly now with the growth of publicity, particularly several television channels and the very large rewards that are available not simply through being paid but through extremely lucrative sponsorship deals with commercial firms. At what point do you think, as it were, climbing up the contestant's track does a person have to accept that she or he is a role-model and, if that person has to accept that, then there are certain implications with regard to their conduct even in their private lives?

  Ms Campbell: I think that is a very challenging question. I would like to say that I genuinely believe young people even within their own schools who are on the school first-team become young leaders within their school because of the nature of the school environment. We are very eager that those young people understand that they are role-models too. In terms of our own work, we have over 500 athletes on our elite funded programme, that means they are being funded through essentially lottery and exchequer funding. I think it is absolutely a duty for those athletes to be involved in some form of community contribution. However, having spent some time talking to Guin in the Athletes Commission, I am very conscious that not every athlete has the confidence to speak at a school assembly or indeed has the inclination to do that, or, at the other extreme, the kind of work that Guin does, which is much more effective than that, which is not just speaking but working with disaffected young people and having a major impact on their life. There are other athletes who would run a million miles from that. I think we can ask them to be role-models in terms of representing themselves firmly on the sporting arena, but we should not always expect that that means that they go and provide some service back to the community to put them in an area of discomfort, because some of them will not find that work easy to do. I think what we are trying to do is to work with the Athletes Commission to look at making sure that where we are asking athletes to be engaged in proactive work in the community their skills are matched to what we are asking them to do and we are not putting them into difficult positions. I think it is a very important question, and I think that any athlete that is in the public eye has a responsibility to the thousands and millions of young people that follow them and idolise their every step, or every kick, or every throw.

  Q378 Chairman: They are probably, among young people, young people at school, the most admired people around?

  Ms Campbell: I think probably they are: the musicians and the modern pop culture. I think those two areas are for many young people their vision of what they would like to be in the world.

  Q379 Chairman: But there is a difference, is there not? There is what you might call a raffish expectation to being a musician in pop and so on. I do not think that it was widely hoped for that young people who were fans of the Sex Pistols would regard it as appropriate that they should model their lives on the Sex Pistols?

  Mr Doran: Speak for yourself

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