Memorandum from the Professional Rugby
The Professional Rugby Players Association (PRA)
is a member of The Institute of Professional Sport which is the
association of professional player associations and as such is
the representative body for paid sports men and women in the country.
We have been asked to submit a contribution on the issue of drug
testing and apologise for the lateness of our submission but hope
our small but important contribution can be circulated to members
of your committee.
We have discussed the need for an independent
anti-doping agency on several occasions and have reached the firm
conclusion that we fully support such a proposal. Our national
anti-doping agency needs to be separate from any funding sourcesbe
it Government or clubsto avoid both conflicts of interest
and for the integrity and wellbeing of all sports. The membership
is also supportive of proposals to create an independent disciplinary
agency which in itself should be separate from the testing agency.
There is a clear potential conflict of interest
when funding agencies and the anti-doping agencies work in concert.
Our members have had difficulties when the names of players have
been released to the media before the agreed process for testing
has been completed. Without such confidentiality the careers and
reputations of athletes can unjustifiably be tarnished. Furthermore
such coverage prejudices the hearing before the case has been
heard. Such an independence we are suggesting will restore the
confidence of players in any new anti-doping agency.
Your committee will recognise that drug testing
can be a very invasive procedure and can highlight confidential
medical issues. It is for this reason that confidentiality must
be respected until due process has been completed.
In addition there may be instances when confidentiality
is required to help the rehabilitation of the athlete. For example
alcohol and drug rehabilitation cases could be undermined by intense
tabloid scrutiny. There is a view that sports have a "duty
of care" to help rehabilitate sportsmen with such problems.
Whilst the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has
drawn up a list of banned substances that should in theory apply
across all sports it will require a period of time before the
international federations are able to apply the rules with the
same uniformity. Within that context there is a need in anti-doping
In the interests of the athletes of all sports
paid and unpaidand the wider public we support the need
for an independent system for handling anti-doping in sport. Something
that must be separated from the current arrangements.
Such a measure for an independent agency would
bring the UK into line with emerging best practice as exists in
the world and strengthen our resolve to rid sport of performance
We understand this was the view concluded by
Dr Roger Jackson as Vice Chairman of the Canadian Anti-Doping
agency in the unpublished review he carried out for UK Sport in