altBy Michele Verroken - 18 February 2009

In the short history of drug testing in sport, there used to be a time when to be included in the out of competition testing programme was regarded by the athlete as an indicator that you had “made it” into the elite of your sport.

Now the milestone of becoming  part of a sporting elite and a member of the ‘registered testing pool’ brings with it the additional burden of providing information on your whereabouts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year for testing at any time.
New rules mean that those athletes will be subject to an additional level of testing above and beyond the usual testing at competitions and squad sessions.
Although most athletes remain  subject to general in-competition drug testing, those  in an elite registered testing pool will be required to share their every move, every day. Inclusion in that testing pool may no longer be  regarded by all athletes as the recognition that they have finally “arrived” in their sport.
Increasing commentary about the burden and the inconvenience the "whereabouts" system is causing, is evidence that the current approach to the war on doping is not capturing the hearts and minds of those who we need to be supporting drug–free sport.
If the price to pay for representing your country has now become automatic inclusion in the registered testing pool, some may think again about this dubious honour and perceived loss of liberty.
For example if the registered testing pool of team sports is focussed entirely on the representative English football, rugby or cricket squads with the consequent requirements for 24/7/365 information, will this really encourage clubs to engage with this system, in the certain knowledge that a player’s failure to adhere to the strict administrative whereabouts requirements of the registered testing pool may lead to additional consequences for certain players which their club team mates are not subject to.
Is it possible that a player might to choose not to be part of the national squad and to stay within the professional league to earn their livelihood with less intrusive surveillance on their personal life?    
Are we on the verge of creating a two tier system of those engaged in the whereabouts testing system and those who choose not to subject themselves to such specific testing requirements?
Some players have already expressed to me the view that they might withdraw from potential selection for the national team, and any requirement to be part of the registered testing pool, as they fear the consequences of getting the administration of the whereabouts system wrong.
Some have suggested that they might retire from their sport, rather than fall foul of three missed tests and being judged to have committed an anti-doping rule violation which could end their sporting career.
Such thoughts have little to do with commitment to keeping their sport drug–free; athletes have additional concerns about protecting their own reputations from collateral damage.
Sponsors are sensitive to the harms of doping in more ways than one.
Safeguards are meant to be there but, as always, the devil is in the detail, more of which should be in the public domain.
If the athlete is strictly liable under the anti-doping rules, surely the system should be subject to the same high standard; ultimately someone should  be held liable for any unnecessary damage to reputation.
Whilst I am absolutely against cheating in sport by the use of doping substances and methods, it is difficult to justify the proportionality of the response that is being foisted upon our athletes.
Has the fear of doping in sport become so great that this level of intrusive surveillance is required and if so how successful is it?
In subsequent blogs I will look again at some of this detail, in the search for more effective ways to achieve sport with integrity.
Michele Verroken is an international expert on anti-doping and integrity matters in sport. She has over 20 years experience of developing anti-doping policies and procedures for professional, Olympic and Paralympic sports. She developed the UK's national anti-doping policy, designed the Drug Information Database and now advises (among others) professional golf on its anti-doping policy. She is the fiounder of Sporting Integrity. More details on

Some interesting points. I have a lot of sympathy for tennis
players as they spend their whole life travelling. They would
probably love to be in the one place at one time for three months
but that's impossible. It would seem silly if a Nadal or Federer
ends up getting banned because their travel schedule overtakes
By Jason Fell
11 March 2009 at 16:07pm

The points made here are all valid. As someone who represents a
number of elite athletes, I can confirm that Michelle is right
when she talks of athletes walking away from their sport, rather
than have their repuations tarnished by administrative mistakes.
By name
13 March 2009 at 10:18am

It is time for WADA to wake up and smell the coffee.

The positive testing rate for performance enhancing drugs has not
been above 2% since testing began. Last year's UK figures show
only 0.5% of tests positive with a case to answer. Yet once again
the spectre of drugs in sport causes draconian actions out of
proportion to the problem.

How many more "cheats" will be caught by this new system and will
the "cost" be worth it. Where is the evidence base that these
actions will be of benefit to anyone wanting to participate or
even reassure those who spectate?

After all they will not catch those cheats using, as yet,
undetectable drugs. So confidence is unlikely to be restored by
these changes.

Not only could they be losing the battle for hearts and minds of
the athlete and losing participants in sport but they could be
could be key in losing the battle for "bums on seats".

Once that happens perhaps the sponsors will be the arbiter of the
"rules". (It is interesting to hear the realistic views put
forward for Dwain's inclusion in Berlin. After all we know who is
the fatest sprinter in the UK - do people really want to pay to
see anything less?)

The use of drugs in sport is wrong but Michele is right, there
has to be accountability on both sides.

Unfortunately rules based on "intolerant idealism" play into the
hands of those advocating the flawed logic of allowing the use of
drugs in sport.

As systems become increasingly unrealistic then the public too
may begin to sympathise with this view. Sadly, the self
fulfilling prophecy of widespread use of drugs in sport could be
realised. Could it be that only then we will understand who the
true losers are?
By Dr Rob Dawson
13 March 2009 at 13:29pm

There are clear breaches of Human Rights in having to provide
24/7/365 whereabouts information.However these rights are not
unfettered and a case can be made out that in the public good it
is reasonable to breach them.But all subject to the need for the
breach have to be treated the same.Drug rules apply to all doing
sport and not just the elite.Thus there cant be targeting and all
sportspeople must be subject to whereabouts rules !

Also whereabouts rules breach Health and Safety Law by breaching
working time directives and holiday rules.Thus to apply
whereabouts rules is a criminal act !
By barry williams
15 March 2009 at 22:53pm