Mi­crochip ath­letes ‘like dogs’ to stop dop­ing, says Olympians’ chief

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - By Ben Rumsby

All ath­letes should be mi­crochipped, like dogs, to pre­vent them from dop­ing, one of the coun­try’s lead­ing sports ex­ec­u­tives has pro­posed.

Mike Miller, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the World Olympians As­so­ci­a­tion and chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Foot­ball Agents – and former chief ex­ec­u­tive of the In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board (now World Rugby) – said tech­nol­ogy was com­ing that would al­low an im­plant to track peo­ple’s move­ments and de­tect per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs in their sys­tems. “We chip our dogs,” he told a West­min­ster Me­dia Fo­rum on in­tegrity and duty of care in sport. “We’re pre­pared to do that and it doesn’t seem to harm them. So, why aren’t we pre­pared to chip our­selves?”

Ad­mit­ting he was “no Steve Jobs”, the man who leads an or­gan­i­sa­tion which boasts of rep­re­sent­ing 100,000 liv­ing Olympians, also called for drugs cheats to be banned for life. “We need to keep in front of the cheats,” he said. “I be­lieve that, in or­der to stop dop­ing, we need to chip our ath­letes where the latest tech­nol­ogy is there.

“Some peo­ple say it’s an in­va­sion of pri­vacy. It’s a club and peo­ple don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to fol­low the rules.”

Stressing this was his opin­ion and not that of the WOA, he added: “The tech­nol­ogy is not quite there yet but it’s com­ing. The prob­lem with the cur­rent sys­tem is that all it says is that, at a pre­cise mo­ment, there are no banned sub­stances. But we need a sys­tem which says you are il­le­gal-sub­stance-free at all times, and if there are changes in mark­ers, they will be de­tected.

“Some peo­ple say we shouldn’t do this to peo­ple. We’re a na­tion of dog lovers; we chip our dogs. We’re pre­pared to do that and it doesn’t seem to harm them. So, why aren’t we pre­pared to chip our­selves?” Miller is not the first to pro­pose ath­letes should be mi­crochipped.

The fo­cus has pre­vi­ously been on whether their move­ments should be tracked, al­low­ing testers to lo­cate them at all times rather than re­ly­ing on them re­port­ing their where­abouts for one hour per day, as they are re­quired to do now.

But al­though that would sim­plify the sys­tem for all in­volved, it would raise is­sues over the right to pri­vacy and even ath­lete wel­fare, given the spate of leaks of med­i­cal data by hack­ers.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of UK An­tidop­ing, Ni­cole Sap­stead, was scep­ti­cal. “We wel­come ver­i­fied de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy which could as­sist the fight against dop­ing,” she said. “How­ever, can we ever be sure that this could never be tam­pered with or even ac­cu­rately mon­i­tor all sub­stances and meth­ods on the pro­hib­ited list? There is a bal­ance to be struck be­tween a right to pri­vacy ver­sus demon­strat­ing that you are clean.”

Speak­ing at the same meet­ing, Sap­stead re­vealed the ex­tent to which dop­ing and ath­lete wel­fare were linked, say­ing that abuse and bul­ly­ing could put in­or­di­nate pres­sure on an ath­lete to suc­ceed.

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