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As plans by tennis authorities to introduce a new doping ‘passport’ are criticised, ScreenSafe UK recommends sports testing to be treated as any other workplace test programme.

The International Tennis Federation announced recently that it would strengthen its drug testing this year by adopting a biological passport program and increasing the number of blood tests and out-of-competition tests. This has been criticised as ‘grandstanding’ by drug experts.

ScreenSafe UK already work with sporting bodies and its experience with professional and amateur athletes suggest strategies should be adopted similar to those for workplace drug testing programmes.

“After all, for professional athletes the tennis court, cricket pitch or rugby field is their office, their place of work” says Matt Taylor, Managing Director of ScreenSafe UK. “Drug and alcohol policies that place an emphasis on education and proper training as well as testing, a supportive approach rather than a punitive one, could encourage more athletes with a drug problem to come forward.” Mr Taylor explains. “Rather than hide it; a lot of people think sporting bodies would rather not know the extent of drug use in their sport.”

“In recent weeks we have heard of the consequences from not knowing the extent of a drug problem in sport, such as with the death of the young cricketer Tom Maynard, or recurring addiction issues like those reported about Paul Gasgoine’s battles with alcohol.”

Mr Taylor, who has advised employers on workplace drug testing for over ten years, also stresses “The sports workplace differs from other work arenas only in that drug takers or dopers can sometimes gain a performance advantage, but it should not be forgotten that this is a health and safety issue too. Young people chasing their sporting dreams risk losing it all – and you can’t fall much further than the most recent famous example of Lance Armstrong. But with counselling and rehabilitation opportunities, it might be possible to prevent young sports stars of tomorrow from being dragged into drug and/or alcohol abuse, addiction or doping.”

Matt Taylor concludes: “More out-of-competition testing is really the first step. And a policy that works for both the sports regulatory body and players must be trusted – trusted to be fair to everyone, trusted to be based on an ethos of support not punishment, and trusted to deliver legally defendable test results and services whose first aim is to protect players from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.”


Editor’s Notes:

About drug use in the UK

• The UK officially has the worst drug problem in Europe – it is the largest user of cocaine after the USA(1).
• The HSE estimates that up to 14 million working days are lost each year due to alcohol-related problems in the workplace, costing British industry an estimated GBP 2 billion each year.
• Two fifths of employers consider alcohol misuse to be a significant cause of absenteeism and lower productivity, while a third believe that drug misuse has similarly negative effects.
• An American study demonstrated that companies with drug-testing programs experienced a 51% reduction in incident rates within 2 years of implementation(2).
• Over 5.5 million cannabis users.
• The incidence of drug use in young people has almost trebled since the 1990s.
• Government data states alcohol fuels:
over 1 million fights per year
19,000 sexual assaults
360,000 cases of domestic violence

(1) Implementing a Drug and Alcohol Policy, Matt Taylor, MD, ScreenSafe UK, APSE Conference March 2011
(2) Evaluation of Drug Testing in the Workplace: Study of the Construction Industry, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Volume 127, Issue 6 (December 2001)

About ScreenSafe UK

Experts in the provision of legally defendable drug and alcohol testing and ancillary services from policies through to confirmations service, training and water-tight procedures. Testing breath, urine, oral fluid, blood and hair, they enable employees to work in a safe environment that is free from drug and alcohol mis-use.

+44(0)8450 505590

Press contacts
For more information regarding ScreenSafe UK or this release, please contact:

Jenni Leech
+44 (0)1491 636262

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