126. In addition to the limited research undertaken,
particularly by the academic sector into legal HETs for sport,
there are also limitations on the exploitation of the research
which does take place within the different sectors to its maximum
potential. Dr Anna Casey described how the pull-through of military
research needs to extend to outside the military. She told us
that there would be a real willingness from the military sector
for this to happen.
However, she also observed that interaction between the different
sectors "is not as good as it should be".
John Brewer from GSK told us that "whilst we know the key
individuals that we are working with, there may be other areas
of expertise out there which we are not aware of which could give
us the answers to some of the questions which we are raising".
We also heard from Dr Bruce Hamilton of UK Athletics that "there
needs to be a tighter link between the clinical practice (and
I include in that the sports physicians and the coaching arena)
and university research".
127. Although there are a number of conferences for
knowledge exchange in sports science (for example, the European
College of Sports science annual meeting), one academic in the
field, Dr Andy Miah of the University of Paisley, wrote that there
is a problem with respect to communication of developments in
sports science, which he regarded as "One of the major weaknesses
in the world of sport".
The University of Loughborough supports this view, specifically
in respect of the need for better dissemination of information,
telling us that "key to the success of HETs in sport is education
of athletes, coaches and those who support them. Dissemination
of available information has lagged far behind scientific progress:
the use of new technologies to improve communication with athletes
must be an essential part of any strategy".
128. UK Sport is making efforts to address the issue
of communication between the sectors and we understand from Dr
Casey that the organisation recently set up a short term working
group bringing together academics and industry to produce a document
for UK athletes with a view to 2012, on ergogenic aids and supplements
and performance enhancement.
We also understand the UK Sport, together with the Engineering
and Physical Sciences Research Council, has recently held three
tailored 'Achieving Gold' workshops aimed at bringing together
researchers from a variety of backgrounds to look at the application
of science, engineering and technology to Olympic and Paralympic
performance sport. The first of these workshops 'Improving information
flow' looks at ways in which coaches can be presented with more
'real time' information about how their athletes are performing;
the second is designed to look at 'New ways to test new kit and
equipment'; and the third is on 'Improving our understanding of
sails'. The workshops are backed by a potential £1.5m budget
to support delivery and outcomes.
129. We welcome initial efforts by UK Sport to enhance
the application of science to sport. However, we feel that there
is still a long way to go. There is a need for greater awareness
of relevant research being undertaken by different academic disciplines
(for example, pharmacology, genetics and sports science) and sectors
(academia, industry, military, sporting organisations), with particular
need for increased linkage between the industrial and academic
sectors. In addition, we are concerned that links between the
sports sector and the Ministry of Defence are weak and that significant
effort should be made toward application of relevant knowledge
within this sector to the benefit of sport. There is also a need
for greater translation/application of the research generated
by different disciplines and sectors to sport. We
urge UK Sport to develop formal mechanisms for the sharing of
knowledge and information between the different sectors and to
look at mechanisms for maximising the application of knowledge
already in existence to the benefit of sport in the UK. Furthermore,
we recommend that the UK Research Councils identify mechanisms
for enhancing the sharing of information relevant to sports science
between the different academic disciplines.