Call for ath­letes to be fit­ted with mi­crochips in fight against drug cheats

The Guardian - Sport - - Front Page - Martha Kel­ner

Ath­letes need to be fit­ted with mi­crochips in a sim­i­lar way to dogs in the fight against drugs cheats in sport, ac­cord­ing to a lead­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of in­ter­na­tional sports peo­ple.

Mike Miller, the World Olympians As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive, claimed that rad­i­cal anti-dop­ing meth­ods – in­clud­ing im­plants to recog­nise the ef­fects of banned sub­stances – are needed to pro­tect clean sport.

“Some peo­ple say we shouldn’t do this to peo­ple,” Miller said. “We’re a na­tion of dog lovers, we’re pre­pared to chip our dogs and it doesn’t seem to harm them, so why aren’t we pre­pared to chip our­selves?”

Miller claims that a break­through in mi­crochip tech­nol­ogy is on the hori­zon and testers need to be aware of de­vel­op­ments. His fear is that drugs cheats could ex­ploit the tech­nol­ogy to avoid de­tec­tion through self-mon­i­tor­ing, alert­ing them when their blood has re­turned to “nor­mal” lev­els be­fore testers ar­rive.

Speak­ing to anti-dop­ing lead­ers at a West­min­ster fo­rum on in­tegrity in sport, Miller said: “To stop dop­ing we need to chip ath­letes where the latest tech­nol­ogy is there. Some peo­ple say it’s an in­va­sion of pri­vacy, well, sport is a club and peo­ple don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to, if they can’t fol­low the rules.

“Mi­crochips get over the is­sue of whether the tech­nol­ogy can be ma­nip­u­lated be­cause they have no con­trol over the de­vice. The prob­lem with the cur­rent anti-dop­ing sys­tem is that all it says is that at a pre­cise mo­ment in time 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.”

The WOA sup­ports the 48 Na­tional Olympians As­so­ci­a­tions and 100,000 liv­ing Olympians, al­though Miller said he was not speak­ing on be­half of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. “I’m just throw­ing the idea out there,” he said. “I’m gaug­ing re­ac­tion from peo­ple but we do need to think of new ways to pro­tect clean sport. I’m no Steve Jobs but we need to spend the money and use the latest tech­nol­ogy.”

The idea of mi­crochips be­ing in­serted into ath­letes would likely be met with mixed re­ac­tion. Some ath­letes are pro­tec­tive of their right to pri­vacy and feel the ex­ist­ing Adams where­abouts sys­tem is al­ready overly in­va­sive. Where­abouts rules dic­tate that ath­letes must de­clare in an on­line data­base where they will be ev­ery day for a one-hour win­dow be­tween 5am and 11pm, so drug testers can turn up with­out prior warn­ing. The ath­lete bi­o­log­i­cal pass­port sys­tem has been the most cru­cial de­vel­op­ment in anti-dop­ing in re­cent years, with blood test results an­a­lysed over a pe­riod of time for the ef­fects rather than pres­ence of drugs.

Ni­cole Sap­stead, the UK Anti-Dop­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive, was wary a move to mi­crochips would rep­re­sent an in­va­sion of ath­letes’ pri­vacy. “We wel­come ver­i­fied de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy which could as­sist the fight against dop­ing. How­ever, can we ever be sure that this type of thing 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. We would ac­tively en­cour­age more re­search in whether there are tech­nolo­gies in de­vel­op­ment that can as­sist anti-dop­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions in their en­deav­ours.”

The World Olympians As­so­ci­a­tion’s Mike Miller says that as a na­tion of dog lovers we chip them ‘so why aren’t we pre­pared to chip our­selves?’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.