UK Sport denies imperilling welfare with experimental substance at London 2012

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UK Sport has denied putting athletes’ welfare at risk after a national newspaper claimed British Olympians had been given an experimental substance ahead of London 2012.

The Mail on Sunday reported public money was used to provide a select band of athletes with an energy drink called DeltaG, claiming there were no guarantees the product did not cause side-effects nor was it certain to be cleared by WADA (the World Anti-doping Agency).

But, in a statement issued in response to the story, UK Sport said it had consulted with both WADA and the UK Anti-Doping before using the product to make sure it complied with guidelines – and that the health of athletes would not be put on the line for the sake of an improved medal haul.

UK Sport insists it does not fund research projects aimed at giving our national teams a performance advantage at the expense of athlete welfare
UK Sport insists it does not fund research projects aimed at giving our national teams a performance advantage at the expense of athlete welfare (Steve Parsons/PA)

“UK Sport does not fund research projects aimed at giving our national teams a performance advantage at the expense of athlete welfare,” the statement read.

“As the nation’s high-performance sports agency, UK Sport invests in expert institutes who deliver research and innovation projects to support the success of our national sports teams.

“These projects range from designing world-class technical equipment for our athletes, to supporting athlete health and performance.

“These research and innovation projects are conducted in line with the highest ethical standards, within the rules of international sport and are assessed by an expert independent Research Advisory Group.

“Consultation takes place with UK Anti-Doping and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wherever necessary to ensure projects comply with international anti-doping regulations.”

The DeltaG drink is a ketone ester and, while the newspaper report claimed UK Sport introduced waivers and non-disclosure forms for those on the trial, the agency said this was standard practice for such an event.

“The Ketone Ester project received independent ethical approval from the Research Advisory Group in January 2012,” the statement added.

“Additionally, UK Anti-Doping confirmed in writing, after seeking clarification from the World Anti-Doping Agency, that WADA had ‘no reason to consider such substances as banned under the 2011 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods’.

“By its very nature, any performance innovation project is at the cutting edge of science and emerging technology, as any advantage for Great Britain is only possible before it is widely available – as was the case for the ketone ester which became commercially available in 2018.

“Any research project funded by UK Sport investment includes a participant consent form to ensure it operates with full transparency with regards to any risks to participants, and also for the purpose of full disclosure.

“Decisions which lie at the heart of the high performance system need to be made with absolute transparency, are respectful and the impact of these decisions understood and carefully managed.

“UK Sport is fully committed to developing a high performance culture that is truly inspirational and one that will set us apart from our global competitors – but UK Sport will never seek to win medals at any cost.”

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