Examination of Witnesses (Questions 316-319)|
12 DECEMBER 2006
Q316 Chairman: Good morning. I do understand,
Minister, that you are on a very tight schedule. We are greatly
appreciative of the fact that you have fitted us into your schedule.
Human Enhancement Technologies in Sport, ahead of the Olympics,
has been an interesting inquiry. A number of the recommendations
which we are coming towards clearly need an input from you as
the Minister and it would have been wrong not to have had that
before doing the heads of report and completing the work. One
of the areas that has arisen is the conflict between the role
of UK Sport and the fact that the anti-doping programme is co-located
within the same organisation as one which has the job of promoting
UK athletics and, indeed, awarding grants. Do you feel there is
a conflict of interest there, Minister?
Mr Caborn: No, not at all. Before
we start, could I just say thank you very much for inviting me.
Secondly, can I say, genuinely, that the fact that you are having
this inquiry shows how importantly we take this subject of anti-doping
and the whole role of WADA. It is very important that we look
towards the back end of next year, when WADA will be having the
international conference. I am sure that what you are going to
be putting in your report will have some influence on that. I
say that very genuinely because I, as the sports minister on behalf
of Government, know that Parliament itself takes this issue seriously.
Again, I think your inquiry underpins that. For an institution
that has been there for only seven years, WADA has come a long,
long way and the fact that you are doing what you are doing will
continue to enhance that and hopefully will give some directions
to the decisions that are going to come out of Madrid in the back
end of 2007. Going back to the question that you asked, we had
an independent report on UK Sport and the role in anti-doping
and it found very, very clearly that there was a synergy between
the two and it was the right place in which to have the whole
anti-doping agency or services. Indeed, the previous Select Committee
report also concurred with that. We have had a long debate about
it and we believe it is the best. We do not believe there are
any conflicts there. We have set up all the recommendations that
came out of the report on UK Sport that was, again, put out into
the public domain. It was debated by many and we believe we have
a very robust system in place. I will say, Mr Willis, that probably
UK Sport is the leading organisation, which is looked to around
the world in many of the innovations in this area.
Q317 Chairman: Why do you think the
British Olympic Association said to us: "The fact that the
UK's anti-doping programme is co-located within the same organisation
which has he responsibility for the elite sort funding programme
continues to be a contentious issue" and UK Athletics said,
"It is difficult to have your educational supporting body
being your prosecuting body"? Indeed, having been to Australia,
ASADA was set up to separate the two functions and in the United
States the US Anti-doping Authority (USADA) was set up to separate
the two functions. Why are you so sure that we have got it right?
Mr Caborn: Because, as I say,
people make those statements but what is the evidence? What is
the evidence that BOA is bringing, what is the evidence that UK
Athletics is bringing? I say interrogate the evidencewe
have, you have, the select committees of this House have. We had
an independent report, we put it out for public debate and nobody
has come forward and said that there is any contamination there.
There is not. I just say to people, "Put the evidence towards
me." I have asked the BOA to put the evidence: it is not
there. I have asked UK Athletics: I have asked Steve Cram; I have
asked Paula Radcliffe. Both of those wrote recently and I wrote
to them both. Unfortunately neither of them has responded to me
but I have said to them: "Give me the evidence. We will interrogate
Q318 Chairman: Is perception not
Mr Caborn: I think perception
is important. I would say that UK Sport and the role that they
play in this area is second to none and, indeed, leads the world.
That comes about because of the relationships within UK Sport.
In terms of them running the anti-doping agency, there are Chinese
walls there, as recommended in the consultants report. We have
done that. I think that is absolutely watertight now. You do then
get the development of the 100% Me programme and the development
we are doing in a number of other areas, and it is that type of
synergy that allows us to lead the world in terms of what we are
doing as a sports organisation in this particular field. I say
to any of those organisations you have quoted, "Please give
me the evidence. I will interrogate it. We will do it in a public
way." It is not in my interests or, indeed, in the Government's
interest or any sport's interest to have that question if there
is evidence there.
Q319 Chairman: Arguably the two strongest
sporting nations in the world, the United States and Australia,
have come to those conclusions and we have got it right and they
have got it wrong.
Mr Caborn: I think the Australians
go a little further. In terms of America, I am very, very pleased
to see what has been happening in the US in the recent past but
they came off from a different place from the one we came off
and you have to judge against the circumstances of that particular
nation. The US have had some real difficulties, both internally
and also with some of their governing bodies. We have seen what
happened on the designer drugs and the development there. They
come at it from a different perspective of what happened. In terms
of Australia, you are moving not just inside their organisation
but on whether you are using the WADA code to police the social
aspects of life as well. I take a very clear view that WADA is
there to root out cheats in sport. Their core business is to stop
using drugs to enhance performance. That is their job. If society
wants a wider issue on the use of drugs, that is fine. If somebody
is found to be using illegal substances and that conflicts with
the WADA code, we will judge that: Has that been performance enhancing?
If it is an illegal act, then there is a criminal law that will
deal with that. We are not in the business of policing society.
We are in the business of rooting out cheats in sport. That is
what WADA's core function is about. What we have here, both in
terms of how we have framed our laws and how we operate through
UK Sport, does that in a very effective way.