A proposal to monitor sports stars’ movements by electronic tagging or by tracking their mobile phones has been considered, Britain’s anti-doping chief has disclosed.

drugs-in-sportBut Andy Parkinson, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD)’s chief executive, said such a scheme had been rejected as not effective enough.

Under the ‘whereabouts’ rule, athletes have to register their travel plans, competition and training locations in advance and make themselves available to drugs testers every day of the year.

Parkinson told Press Association Sport: “We have had a number of conversations about people wearing tags and having their mobile phones being able to send a signal.

“But we don’t think that would be effective. The challenge for us is that we need to know where athletes are going to be rather than where they are right now.

“We might think that in a week’s time is when someone is at a greater risk of potentially doing something.”

Cyclist Mark Cavendish says in his new autobiography ‘At Speed’ that he would be prepared to be electronically tagged after missing tests in 2005 and 2011.

Meanwhile, Parkinson has admitted that UKAD face challenges in implementing a 10 per cent cut to its £5million Government funding from 2015.

The cut was announced in the most recent comprehensive spending review but comes at a time when the agency is increasing the number of ‘targeted’ tests – rather than random – to 40% of the total, which requires extra resources.

“We can’t do everything so we have to prioritise our work and that means we will do less for some people and for our clean athletes,” added Parkinson.

“If we get £5 we will spend £5, if we get £10 we will spend £10, the challenge for us is making sure we are making the best use of the money.”

Parkinson is heading for Johannesburg next week where the latest revision of WADA’s code will be agreed.

It will see athletes who deliberately cheat given automatic four-year bans for a first offence rather than two years, and longer bans too for those who take supplements containing banned substances without making adequate checks first.

One issue which has roused the opposition of players’ and athletes’ unions is for recreational drugs such as cocaine and cannabis to also carry a two-year ban – something which has been pushed strongly by the USA government.

WADA has agreed to lift the threshold for cannabis significantly meaning anyone who registers a small amount of the drug should not face a ban.

Parkinson said: “The list doesn’t distinguish between recreational drugs and others. You have public authorities and governments saying the health of the athlete is just as important as cheating to us.

“Under the revised code you would be looking at two years but the threshold for cannabis was elevated quite considerably in September.”

Courtesy of Press Association

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