Select Committee on Science and Technology Second Report

7  Preparing for the 2012 Olympics

Scaling up testing

106. A recently released IOC statement announced that, as part of its zero tolerance approach to fighting doping, the number of tests conducted for the Beijing Olympic Games will be significantly increased. Final numbers are to be confirmed but are expected to be around 4,500, a 25 per cent increase on Athens 2004.[188] It might therefore be reasonable to assume the possibility of further increases by 2012 and the London Games. Indeed, according to Professor Ljungqvist, the IOC is steadily increasing the number of tests for the Olympic Games from each one to the next and he was certain that "they will be increased again".[189] Dr Budgett of the BOA suggested that 5,000 tests would be "a nice rounding of the figure", which "would be half of the athletes at the games".[190]

107. If testing is to increase during the 2012 Olympics, then it is clear that the UK must have a strategy in place underpinning the requirements this may impose. During our visit to Australia, the Committee learnt that the Australian Government awarded significant funding to enable the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory (ASDTL) to expand in preparation for the testing of all samples taken during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The ASDTL called on equipment and personnel (the ASDTL expanded from 14 to 90 members of staff during the games) from other sections of the National Measurements Institute where it is based, and was able to ensure that all involved in the testing process were fully trained.

108. In the light of this experience, we were concerned at the apparent complacency shown by UK Sport and the Government in respect of this issue. When asked how UK testing laboratories would scale up for testing at the 2012 games, John Scott from UK Sport acknowledged that there may be a huge increase in the number of tests but he did not think capacity would be a problem, telling us that "it is very easy to bring in the sophisticated testing machinery" and that "there are a number of individuals who are qualified to use that machine internationally who would also be brought in".[191] It is a standard procedure during the Olympics that staff from WADA-accredited laboratories from across the world congregate in the host country to assist in the testing process. This is reassuring but we were less satisfied with Mr Scott's admission that this "is part of the pre-Games planning that we are only now beginning to get our heads around".[192] The question of funding for the necessary increase in facilities also seems unresolved. When pressed on whether the UK Government would be making funds available, the Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn MP told us that this was "not a UK responsibility or indeed a Government responsibility" but one within the domain of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). Mr Caborn also told us that funding for the London 2012 testing programme itself would have to come out of the LOCOG budget.[193]

109. Whilst 2012 may seem some way off, we believe that it is essential that the UK takes a proactive stance on developing the facilities required for a successful testing programme. We also believe that an accurate view of funding requirements must be obtained and that adequate funding for the running of a successful testing programme must be made available. We recommend that UK Sport and DCMS urgently consult on requirements for scale-up of testing facilities, personnel and protocol during the London 2012 Olympics and that Government funding for meeting such requirements be made available. This will clearly require close working with LOCOG and to facilitate this, we urge the Government to provide a clear statement on the responsibilities and remit of LOCOG and UK Sport regarding the London 2012 testing programme.


110. We were also interested to determine what mechanisms the UK has in place to learn from previous large-scale events such as the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. John Scott from UK Sport told us that "WADA undertakes an independent observer programme for all the games".[194] He added that UK Sport will be studying WADA reports, for example on Turin (host of the 2006 Winter Olympics) and Melbourne (host of the 2006 Commonwealth Games), and that it will be working with LOCOG in terms of "delivery of the anti-doping programme".[195] There are two options in terms of how this Olympic anti-doping programme will be delivered (either by UK Sport directly, or with UK Sport as advisers for the delivery), and Mr Scott explained that the selected option would "gear up accordingly".[196] Anti-doping will come within the remit of a medical director for the London Games who is yet to be appointed, although Mr Scott indicated that UK Sport expects to "be there as well observing anti-doping at the [Beijing] Games".[197]

111. Once again, we find the attitude of UK Sport unacceptably complacent. Whilst it might not be expected that the 2012 Olympic anti-doping policy should already be in place, we are concerned that little is being done to liaise with and learn from previous hosts of the Olympics and other major events. We recommend that immediate mechanisms be put in place by UK Sport to learn how other countries have managed doping during large international sporting events. We recommend that the Government liaise actively with WADA, IOC and other governments to ensure that the UK is not only well prepared for anti-doping during the 2012 Games, but that there is a clear understanding of the protocols the UK must have in place. This process of learning lessons from the experience of others will be vital to the success of the 2012 Games but we are also concerned that more needs to be done, and more quickly, to ensure that the UK can deliver the most efficient anti-doping and testing programme possible. We recommend that the Government develop an action plan in conjunction with UK Sport to ensure that the UK is prepared for anti-doping well in advance of the 2012 Games.

112. During our visit to Australia, we learned about the importance of gaining knowledge of prohibited substances which may be brought into the country, either legally (if not banned under UK legislation) or illegally, prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Representatives of the Sydney branch of the Court of Arbitration for Sport impressed upon us how essential it is that a robust relationship is built between anti-doping authorities and HM Revenue and Customs prior to the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics. We agree that this is an area for serious consideration. We recommend that mechanisms be put in place for informed liaison between UK Sport or any replacement anti-doping authority and HM Revenue and Customs to identify and monitor prohibited substances brought into the UK which may be intended for use during the 2012 Olympic Games.

188   27 October 2006, The Herald Back

189   Q 263 Back

190   Q 302 Back

191   Q 47 Back

192   Q 48 Back

193   Q 325-327 Back

194   Q 59 Back

195   As above  Back

196   As above Back

197   Q 59-61  Back

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Prepared 22 February 2007