As UK Anti-Doping’s Clean Sport Week campaign continues, we take a look at the support provided to British skiers and snowboarders to train and compete clean
GB Snowsport Programme Manager, Alex Wilson, has led our Anti-Doping and Clean Sport education work for four seasons. Here, she explains the benefits to athletes, the benefits of working with UK Anti-Doping, and the teamwork that sits at the heart of our approach.
GBS: How does our work on Anti-Doping and Clean Sport education actually work in practice?
AW: From an education standpoint, it’s always been slightly tricky that we don’t have a centralised programme. With the amount of travel our athletes do, there’s no way that we can sit everyone down for the education programme and take them through it in person. When the world started having the ‘Zoom challenge’ a couple of years back, we were thinking “okay, well now everyone’s in the same boat!”.
Everything we do stems from the strategy we’ve devised to give us as many ‘touch points’ with the teams as we can. That way, the understanding and education gets organically fed in, rather than being a case of ‘oh, this is when you need to think about it’. Probably the biggest success is getting the principles woven into athletes’ day-to-day, so that it becomes just another part of the things they know to do.
GBS: What are the benefits to the athletes of clean sport and all the tools around it?
AW: First and foremost, they know their achievements are their own. It sounds obvious to say it, but anything our athletes do, any success they have, they know they’ve been 100% safe and clean.
Beyond that, one of the things that I think has worked really well is developing an approach that’s really tailored to snowsport athletes. When I speak to some of the team who’ve been on the circuit for a few years and would have received education on quite a few occasions, one thing they usually say is how much more aligned it feels to their experiences as athletes. That’s great for them, but it’s also a really helpful for us in keeping them engaged.
GBS: How well understood do you think Clean Sport is for athletes coming on to the World Class programme?
AW: We made the decision not to just target the highest level of athletes with our education approach, but to work with partners to help filter it down through the development period as well. We want there to be that baseline of understanding and education already there before an athlete ever joins a GB Snowsport programme.
What that means is that you’ve really got a whole generation of athletes that have at least a degree of understanding of their responsibilities, and the importance of clean sport.
GBS: Clean Sport Week has got a big focus on the Teamwork in Clean Sport. What does that mean to you?
AW: It’s absolutely crucial. It’s almost a cliché to say it, but it’s true that everyone has a duty to protect clean sport.
Inside our NGB, we’ve really benefited from our board buying into the process and seeing themselves as a part of the team on clean sport work. A number of board members have completed board specific UKAD training, and that’s really helped the top-down understanding, as well as setting a really positive example for the rest of the organisation.
With the athletes themselves, we also do a lot of work with their coaches and support teams. The Coach Clean resources from UKAD are a mandatory requirement for anyone coaching on the World Class Programme, and speaking to coaches in the field they’re often the first port of call for athlete questions.
We also get to work really closely with UKAD themselves, which is a fantastic help in the work we do on clean sport. That sense of teamwork, whether it’s within our staff team, with coaches and athletes, or with people out with the athletes, is such a foundational principle in getting this right.
UK Anti-Doping’s Clean Sport Week campaign runs until 26 May. Find out more at www.ukad.org.uk/clean-sport-week-2023