ATHLETES with aspirations of lighting up the 2014 Commonwealth Games on behalf of Team Scotland have been issued with a timely reminder of the profound importance of keeping the Games clean.
Of the many potential threats to a smooth Games in Glasgow from 24 July to 3 August this year, doping rarely gets a mention. This is largely because the few doping scandals to have darkened the Scottish sporting landscape over the years have by and large been put down to clumsiness rather than a malicious intent to win by using performance-enhancing drugs.
David Millar’s confessions of doping during his peak years as a cyclist on Europe’s professional tours make his case exceptional, but even he has transformed himself, since serving a two-year suspension, into an anti-doping crusader. Millar would approve of yesterday’s warning from the sportscotland institute of sport about the responsibilities facing the 250-plus competitors who will fly the flag for Scotland this summer.
The only potential downside of Scotland’s relatively good record of keeping on the right side of anti-doping laws is that it could lead to a degree of complacency. Glasgow 2014 offers rank-and-file Scottish athletes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in profile enhancement, which could lead to external earnings that would never come their way if they never got the chance to win medals at a home Games.
This is a peril that is rarely acknowledged, except in the corridors of sportscotland, where anti-doping has never slipped off the agenda and a new policy, mapped out in unison with the equivalent authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, was unveiled yesterday. Mike Whittingham, the institute’s director of high performance, outlined the work that has been going on behind the scenes to ensure the systems in place in Glasgow will be as foolproof as they are fastidious.
“Not only will athletes have access to top-class training and expertise in the lead-up to the Games, but they will also benefit from increased education about anti-doping policies,” said Whittingham.
“sportscotland is committed to ensuring Scottish athletes and team personnel have access to a system of world-class preparation and support.Our partnership with UK Anti-Doping will ensure we meet our shared objectives of preparing world-class teams at the Glasgow, Sochi, and Rio Games.
“It is vital that Scottish governing bodies utilise this free resource and work with us to make sure every athlete has the required knowledge and skills to avoid risk. Athletes too have a responsibility to ensure they are making sound decisions when it comes to their training.”
According to yesterday’s release from sportscotland, seven “national trainers” from across the home nations have undergone training in Edinburgh to offer support and education to athletes and coaches. The agency added in its statement: “The aim of the pre-Games programme will be to minimise the risk of an inadvertent finding pre and during the Games, help to prevent a Games-time finding, while supporting the global objective of a clean Games.”