Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320-339)|
12 DECEMBER 2006
Q320 Chairman: The point we are trying
to makeand I do not want to labour this because I want
to bring Brian inis that UK Sport has got to you, Minister,
and indeed to the nation, because a huge amount of money now,
particularly from Lottery fundingfrom ordinary men and
women giving their pounds each weekgoes into elite athlete
programmes. The contradiction there seems to be between one aim
which says we want to winnot perhaps at all costs, but
you take the point I am making: we want successand on the
other hand we are the body which has to police the very things,
human enhancement technologies, which may give them that little
edge. Do you accept that?
Mr Caborn: I accept you can put
a case. Obviously there is a case, but that is why we set the
consultants to look at it. But it is wider than that. If you look
at the basic principle of WADA and the athlete, it is strict liability.
If anything, they have the liability, they have the responsibility
for what they put into their bodies and that is not negotiable.
Through UK Sport, because of that relationship, we have been able
to put a first class education and first class information system,
around that athlete. That athlete is very isolated. They have
the strict liability for what they put into their body and that
is not negotiableI accept that; there are no grey areas
in it; they are totally responsiblebut you do then have
to put organisations and a supply of information around that athlete
so that they can make the right judgment. I have talked to a lot
of athletes over the recent past and it is not easy for an athlete
who has a very, very close working relationship with their coach
to then turn round and say, "This person is doing wrong to
me." They do feel very isolated. Through UK Sport, through
the 100% Me education programme, through the information
we are giving athletes, I hope that as we develop over the next
12 months, as we go into Madrid, in WADA, we will be looking at
systems where the athlete can have a reporting system confidentiallythis
is what athletes have been saying to meso that they can
go to a secure point and raise their concerns. As I say, you leave
athletes in very isolated positions with the coach, training day
in and day out. It is a very tight bond that they have between
them and that is sometimes where these issues go wrong.
Chairman: Thank you.
Q321 Dr Iddon: It does seem rather
odd, especially since athletes are considered to be role models,
particularly by younger people, that some athletesand they
are a minority, I accept thathave been caught taking drugs
which are classified by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and, although
they are treated by their sporting authorities with suspension
and punished in that way, we have not followed Italy, France and
Sweden in criminalising doping and applying the law that you have
just suggested we might apply. Why is that?
Mr Caborn: Again, I go back to
the point I made. What is WADA there for? WADA is there to root
out cheats in sport. That is their core business. If you want
to police society because of substances, then, fine, we can do
that. This no doubt is the discussion within WADA. My view is
that there are three bases on which the WADA code is based: performance
enhancing; harm to the athlete; harm to the sport. I would give
far more weight to the performance enhancing of those three and
I would also look very seriously at the list to tick off what
I believe are some of the social drugs. That is not a majority
view inside WADA but it is one I have. Why do I say that? I say
it because the core business of WADA is, indeed, to stop athletes
artificially increasing their performance by drugs.
Q322 Dr Iddon: According to the Daily
Telegraph of 7 December, this month, UK Sport are alleged
to be looking at criminalising doping or looking at the law in
this area. Have you any knowledge of that? If you agree that they
are doing that, have you been assisting in any way?
Mr Caborn: First of all, that
was wrongly interpreted, to be quite honest. I asked UK Sport
about that and they said that is not the case. They are not looking
at criminalisation. You have to be proportionate with this. It
is good that I have come to this Committee today when the 30th
nation has signed up to the UNESCO Convention which means that
next year we can have the first meeting of that, so at least is
has now been legitimised and UNESCO will come in. With WADAand,
remember, it came out of the IOC, it came out of sport, this is
a sports initiative which they startedover the recent past,
the last two or three years, we have tried to give it political
support. Absolutely central to that is that it is sport that has
led, with political support. That is why we want to make sure
that we continue to keep the policing and the development of WADA
very much within sport. We do not want this to be overtaken by
politicians or other institutions. It is very important as a principle
that sport should deal with its own misdemeanour. It should not
give it to a third party. There have been those who have argued
the case that it ought to be taken out of sport. It is a bit like
your argument with me about UK Sport. I think you want to keep
politics, as it were, out of running sport but I do believe politics
has a strong role to support sport. The strength of WADA is that
over the last two or three years we have been able to develop
a sound code but that has the backing now of politicians, even
to the United Nations, through UNESCO, and I think that is a very
Q323 Dr Iddon: Just to make the position
absolutely clear: the United Kingdom is not considering criminalising
doping in sport prior to the 2012 Olympics.
Mr Caborn: The answer to that
is: No, we are not and we will not go down that route because
we think that would be disproportionate to what we are trying
Q324 Bob Spink: I would like to look
at the preparation for testing and so forth for the 2012 Olympics.
We have two WADA-accredited laboratories in this country. John
Scott of UK Sport acknowledged that there may be a huge increase
in the number of tests required. That is really common sense,
is it not?
Mr Caborn: Yes.
Q325 Bob Spink: So I would like to
ask what funding and resources you expect to allocate to enable
the UK to scale up its testing facilities prior to 2012.
Mr Caborn: If you are talking
specifically about 2012 and the Olympics, that is the responsibility
of LOCOG, the London Organising Committee, which, as you know,
is chaired by Seb Coe. That will be done in conjunction with UK
Sport. We will set up, in conjunction with UK Sport, through LOCOG's
Chief Medical Officer. We have not done that yet but that structure
will be in place. The only parallel you can draw down is what
we did in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. That was very
successful. That was the Commonwealth Committee but we set up
the structure here in Manchester at that time. It is a LOCOG responsibility
not a UK responsibility or indeed a Government responsibility,
but we will be working very closely with LOCOG's Chief Medical
Officer and UK Sport.
Q326 Bob Spink: Will you be making
funds available to LOCOG then to scale up facilities?
Mr Caborn: That will be part of
LOCOG's budget. It will not be part of our budget. As part of
the candidate file in 2004, when we made the bid for 2012, we
had to put into that what our position would be on anti-doping.
Q327 Bob Spink: But you are going
to make sure they are funded to do that.
Mr Caborn: LOCOG has their budget.
Basically that comes out of the private sector. It is part of
Q328 Bob Spink: You will like the
Mr Caborn: Go on, then.
Q329 Bob Spink: Will you be kind
enough to take time out to go to Beijing to see what we can learn
Mr Caborn: Beijing? Why not. Absolutely.
Any time you want.
Q330 Chairman: Can you support the
Committee in going.
Mr Caborn: You have just come
back from Australia, I understand.
Q331 Bob Spink: Do you think there
is anything we can learn from looking at Beijing?
Mr Caborn: Absolutely. We are
learning all the time. This is in its infancy. If you go back
and look at the press, a big article in the Financial Times
only three years ago was saying: "Let's legalise and legitimise
doping in sport." We have come a long way. We were at a crossroads
then; I believe those crossroads have now been passed. We have
now a very robust system in place and we will learn all the way.
That is why what you are doing in this Committee could well influence
what is decided at the Madrid conference in 2007which,
as you know, is a conference held every four years by WADAwhich
will map out the next four years and I think we can learn a lot.
We have a long way to go with WADA but our direction of travel
is absolutely right We will learn a lot from Beijing, as we will
from the Pan-American Games in 2007 in Rio. We will be looking
at the Asian Games as well and the Commonwealth Games that take
placewe did in Melbourne and we will do in Delhi in 2010.
Q332 Bob Spink: I do not know what
the answer is on this particular question but I think it is something
we should explore briefly. While we were in Australia we learned
something that was quite interesting, that they had difficulty
allowing each of the national teams to bring in their own list
of controlled substances, drugs, whatever, to treat their athletes
for the various illnesses that these top athletes have and all
the rest of it. Before they came, they submitted lists of what
they wanted to bring into the country, and they brought them in
and they then had to re-export what they had not used afterwards.
There were all sorts of difficulties with people turning up with
things that were not on lists, et cetera, and the lists having
to be checked outthat the tablets they were claiming were
aspirins were aspirins and not something else. There were massive
organisational difficulties with that and massive costs, and it
struck us that an alternative to that would be to say that nobody
brings anything into the country. Each of these centres has its
own pharmacy; they can supply any drugs that anybody would need
to treat anything. We will allow nobody to bring controlled substances
into the country: they use those that are provided in this country
by this country. That would be the safer and more rational way
and easier and cheaper way to organise and run it all and it might
help to prevent what happened in Athens where the Games were destroyed
by the initial drugs scandal. Have you looked at that?
Mr Caborn: I have not but I would
be very dubious about your approach to that. Another area where
there have been discussions is around the question of supplements
and the whole audit trail of those supplements. That has to be
secure. Again, if you work on the issue of strict liability, you
have to make sure the athlete is competent in what they are using.
I think we have to find a solution to the problem of bringing
them in rather than applying a total ban and then saying we will
supply. There are a lot of problems around that. It is not something
I have talked about. It is an interesting issue. I have no doubt
you will look at it in your report and it is something that LOCOG
can look at.
Q333 Chairman: Minister, we have
two registered WADA laboratories in the UK. Where do you stand
on that issue that they should do drug testing only in terms of
athletes? Should they be allowed, for instance, to be able to
test supplements at the same time within the same laboratories?
Do you feel there is an issue there?
Mr Caborn: There is an issue,
there is no doubt. WADA is raising it as an issue.
Q334 Chairman: Where do you stand
Mr Caborn: I stand very clearly
that I think they ought to be able to do both. I made my position
very clear when I was on the WADA Foundation Boardwhich,
as you know, I was on for a period when we had the troika of the
European Union. I made it very clear that I believe you can test
for both and I believe that WADA has that wrong. WADA has to look
at this. WADA has to settle this. I can understand where they
are coming from and they want to keep it absolutely watertight
and as black and white as they possibly can but we all live in
the real world and that real world says that these athletes want
to use supplements. I mean, I use supplementsyou know,
I do a bit of running on a Sunday morning and I am not going to
say I am going to be drugs tested but I am saying that supplements
are good. I use supplements when I am running for the marathon
and the half-marathons and they are very useful.
Q335 Chairman: But it gives an excuse
Mr Caborn: I think we can resolve
those issues. There are very good audit trails. I have been to
a number of laboratories now that do supplements and they have
a very good audit trail which you can go back through if there
is an argument about that. WADA is concerned about whether, as
it is in a WADA laboratory, that gives the stamp of approval by
WADA. That is the argument. First, we have to acknowledge that
supplements are used and athletes are going to use them and, secondly,
we have to make sure we have a system that is watertight and has
a very good audit trail. I do not believe that if you are a WADA
testing laboratory that is a stamp of approval from WADA. That
is not the case. That is their concern, that they give a legitimacy
Q336 Dr Harris: Could I briefly return
to this issue of conflict of interest. You were very clear when
you said there were not any conflicts of interest that were active.
I want to work out what you think the position is. Are you saying
that, in your view, there is no conflict of interest and there
is no perception of a conflict of interest by sharing the two
functions within the same organisation? Or would you accept that
there is no conflict of interest but there is a perception? Or
are you saying that there is a conflict of interest or a potential
conflict of interest but the mechanisms you have in place, like
Chinese walls, deal with it so that it never sees the light of
day in terms of affecting behaviour. Which of those three are
you saying it is?
Mr Caborn: I am saying there is
no conflict of interest there, in my view, and that has been interrogated
on a number of occasions by different independent bodies. Secondly,
is there a perception? If people keep writing articles in papers
that this thing has a conflict of interest, then there is a perception
out there. I cannot control that. All I can say to peopleand
I say it very genuinely to you as a Committee and all those who
keep writing these articles, "Please bring the evidence."
We have interrogated it already: we have put it before select
committees; we have put it to independent review. That has all
come out giving it a clean bill of health. In fact I would argue
that the fact that we operate in the way we do adds value to the
services we give to the athletes we are applying the WADA rules
to. I would argue that UK Sport is the leading organisation in
the world in this area.
Q337 Dr Harris: I want to turn to
this question of the legal human enhancement technologies. If
they are legal and they are likely to be legal for ever then they
are modern training techniques. We have heard that there is very
little research done in this country, there is little funding
for research into the sorts of physiology that is directly applicable
or easily applicable to athletics, and that such research as there
is is in the medical sphere, which is separate from sport, and
there is not even any funding to transfer that technology into
sport. Other countries are doing it, legally, with these legal
methods, and we are not and therefore we are in a sense at a disadvantage.
Do you accept that analysis in any way? What do you propose, if
you do accept it even to a small extent, can be done to solve
Mr Caborn: I think that is the
responsibility of the English Institute for Sport. There are things
we have been developing through the EIS, things like altitude
chambers at Bisham Abbey; therefore they are looking at this leading-edge
technology through the EIS. That is their responsibility. That
is why we put EIS in the position that it is in. As you know,
it is there to assist our athletes, the elite athletes, to realise
their potential. It works now within the overall body of UK Sport.
That is a question that I would pose to the UK Sport and the EIS
and say, "Are we missing a trick here?" If we are, let
us rectify that. I am not in a position to say that we are or
we are not.
Q338 Dr Harris: I want to make the
distinction. I do not disagree with anything you have said. The
EIS uses existing techniques and applies them to elite athletesand
we will see how successful they have been in due coursebut
I am talking about research. EIS is not a research body which
we on this Committee would recognise, and I think they accept
that, but the other research councils fund physiology and healthcareand
that is fine, I am not saying that should not be a prioritybut
there are potential applications, even within the same university,
we found at Loughborough, but there is no funding to transfer
that. I am just wondering whether you think there is merit in
exploring whether there should be funding identified to do that
transfer of technology at an earlier stage than the EIS applying
that to elite athletes.
Mr Caborn: The answer would be
yes, obviously. Who would motivate that? 20% of the WADA budget
is about research. At Southampton University WADA have
Q339 Dr Harris: But that is into
detection; that is not into the use of legal methods.
Mr Caborn: The answer to that
is I do not know. It is an interesting one. I have no doubt I
shall respond to it in your report when it comes up. It will be
one of your recommendations, I have no doubt, which I shall have
to look at very carefully. If that is the case, it has not been
brought across my desk before, I will be honest. If we are missing
that type of transfer of intellectual property, then fine. It
is in many areas. There is no doubt that the whole Olympics and
how it is changing the nation's view of sport and physical activity
is to be welcomed. It is really about how do we take that intellectual
property of elite athletes and transfer that into the general
populous. I always say it is bit like a Formula 1 car. I have
said this many times: what happens in Formula 1 today happens
in the luxury car market tomorrow and happens in the volume car
market the day after. That is technology transfer. That is what
we have to do. When they are pushing the elite athletes to their
extremes, they are throwing up all sorts of information that can
then be directed into wealth creation on the one hand but also
the wellbeing of the nation on the other.