Luton AC believe that the illegal use of drugs in athletics is totally unacceptable.
Cheating is not acceptable and in Britain in particular this view is pretty much part of our culture.
The use of drugs by individuals also invariably leads to health issues for the individual far beyond the period when they may get any enhanced sporting performance.
To counter the illegal use of performance enhancing drugs, the UK anti-doping agency runs a stringent drug testing process both in and out of competition.
Testing at the elite level is very controlled. Those athletes on lottery funding are also on the whereabouts scheme where they have to specify where they will be for an hour a day every day.
However the fact is that ANY registered athlete can be tested at any time in or out of competition.
As athletes you may be asked by UKAD to take a test at any competition. Drug testing does cost money and it is very unlikely that your average club athlete would be tested at any of our league meetings. However at South of England regional meetings, or more likely at an England Athletics’ national meeting, UKAD may be in attendance and you may be subjected to a test.
Also unlike whereabouts, where you have to say where you are for an hour a day, you can not be sanctioned for missing a test BUT if a tester does show up at your house and asks to test you, you must take the test.
We have realised that much of this is probably not clear to the average club athlete and so we have been talking to Clean Athletics about coming to Luton to present what is expected of athletes and how they can avoid falling foul of the drug testing process.
This has been brought to the fore at Luton AC as we have recently had two athletes who have been sanctioned by UKAD.
Jo Blair has been provisionally suspended following a failed test. Her case is still being reviewed by UKA, largely because of the very small amounts of the substance found. Her position is that she has probably taken a contaminated supplement. This has happened to athletes in the past and although there is a process by which athletes can check supplements from manufacturers, there is always a risk when taking supplements because of the way they are produced which can lead to contamination.
David Burrell has received a 4 year ban from UKAD for refusing to take a test. Note Dave has not failed a test but did refuse to take one when a tester turned up just before he was going to work. He also believed that he would only be penalised for a third failed test. Actually that is the whereabouts scheme and relates to three missed tests. A refusal to take a test will always be treated as a failure, hence the sanction. Unfortunately this also means that Dave can no longer coach athletics.
In summary the club’s position is that drug taking can not be condoned but I also feel we need to provide better information to athletes to help prevent them falling foul of the system inadvertently.
So we will be organising a session with Clean Athletes in Luton but will open it up to athletes and parents from the whole county as we think very few general club members are fully aware of how drugs testing operates.
We should add though that there are various sources on the UKA, England Athletics and Clean athletics websites where information can be obtained.