A study examining Scottish coaches’ perspectives on
anti-doping has highlighted the influence a coach can have on an
The WADA-commissioned study – which was carried out by the
University of Stirling and included interviews by coaching and
anti-doping experts at Scotland’s University for Sporting
Excellence with Scottish performance sport coaches – found
that the country’s anti-doping record is heavily linked to
coaches’ anti-doping attitudes, but also suggested that the
coach’s role is not being maximized as it should.
“We found there was a strong stance from Scottish coaches
towards anti-doping and their ethos is based on athletes achieving
success through hard work and not through taking any
shortcuts,” explained Dr Justine Allen, Lecturer in Sports
Coaching and lead author of the study.
“In that respect, the foundations are there, but many coaches
said they lacked knowledge around anti-doping and for some it was a
low priority due to the established anti-doping culture in the UK
and few incidents in their sport.
“There are very good examples of anti-doping best practice
and integrated programmes in some governing bodies, but this tends
to be in sports with a history of doping issues internationally
when it should be across the board. There is a need to establish
clear roles and responsibilities within each governing body of
sport in relation to anti-doping.
“It might be the responsibility of the coach, an anti-doping
officer or the physio; it’s up to the governing body to
determine the best fit for them, but the crucial thing is that they
define the responsibilities clearly as it should be an around the
clock role – not just at a tournament or doctor’s
“If it is clear where the responsibility lies, it becomes a
priority for them and they are more likely to ask themselves if
they know enough and seek out available education,” added Dr
WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said: “This
study has been insightful in highlighting the importance of
anti-doping policies, and the role coaches and the athlete
entourage may play in influencing athletes.
“Whilst the study offers just a snapshot from one country, it
certainly validates the view that WADA has towards athlete support
personnel and the fact that those who surround the athlete,
including coaches, can strongly influence an athlete’s
decision-making. This influence is an area that has been reflected
by WADA in the revised World Anti-Doping Code, which will take
effect from January 1, 2015.
“The results of this study show that education of athletes
and their support personnel is a crucial part of any anti-doping
program. At WADA, we provide many resources aimed at providing
anti-doping information to athletes, coaches and other stakeholders
such as teachers and physicians so that those involved can make the
The study recommended developing further case study examples on how
and when to engage athletes and coaches in anti-doping
conversations and experiences, and integrating anti-doping
information into wider topics such as optimising performance
preparation and recovery where discussion might include nutrition
and supplement use as well as anti-doping.
The findings, however, also discovered the coaches’
limitations. Dr Allen said: “I don’t think the coaches
can be absolved of responsibility towards anti-doping, and all of
the coaches we interviewed agreed with that, but while the public
might think it should be the coaches’ responsibility, the
coaches we spoke to were clear they don’t have full control
over what the athletes do.
“In Scotland most athletes are not full-time professional
athletes, nor are the coaches necessarily, so they don’t see
one another all the time and there is a lot of trust and
responsibility put on the athlete for instance if they go to their
GP, it’s up to them to intimate they are a competing athlete
so they don’t receive medication which contains a banned
substance,” she added.
Published February 26, 2014 in Play True magazine, the official
publication of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)
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