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UKAD Clean Sport Research

FSEM members contribute to research regarding athlete support practitioners and their influence on clean sport

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) recently shared the findings from a commissioned research project gleaning insight and understanding from the UK-based network of Athlete Support Personnel (ASP) into their behaviour, understanding and influence on clean sport. This work focused on those ASP supporting an athlete or team, including members of FSEM as well as practitioners from the fields of sport science and physical preparation.

A broad range of ASP across the UK contributed to this research either through a survey (led by the Clean Sport Alliance on behalf of UKAD) or as part of focus groups. The research looked to better identify what ASP understand about their role in clean sport, how confident they feel about delivering clean sport messaging, and gathered thoughts and recommendations for future educational support for this influential group of practitioners.

UKAD’s Chief Executive Jane Rumble commented: “We are committed to empowering practitioners to develop in their athlete support roles and be able to confidently advise athletes on clean sport matters. This vital research project has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the behaviours of many ASP and where we should better focus our efforts when it comes to their education and the resources available to them.”

The key findings demonstrated that ASP felt committed to clean sport and a professional duty to protect the health and wellbeing of their athletes. There was consensus amongst ASP that clean sport education should become a mandatory element of their development, embedded into their training as practitioners. Educational content needs to remain relevant to their environment and the athletes they support; whilst also being available for them to access in bite-sized format. ASP recognised that opportunities to engage in discussion with fellow practitioners would offer greater insight and be an effective means of raising confidence across support teams, whilst also ensuring consistency in messaging.

In response to these findings, UKAD is working to strengthen its approach to education programmes for ASP, as it recognises the need to build a curriculum focused on the responsibilities of those who work with athletes, providing the most effective and engaging programme of support. This includes the recently launched Introduction to Clean Sport eLearning programme, split into six core modules therefore lending itself to bite-sized access by practitioners. We encourage all FSEM practitioners to undertake this programme to ensure clean sport knowledge remains up to date – please register here.

Through engagement with key stakeholders, the relevant professional bodies, and university institutions, UKAD will work towards the objective of clean sport education becoming embedded within practitioner development plans and will facilitate positive discussions around clean sport issues.

UKAD is, in addition, investing in expanding its tailored resources, engagement opportunities (such as forums and conferences), and support mechanisms (for instance toolkits and guides), to ensure practitioners remain capable of fully supporting athletes. UKAD is also committed to driving the research agenda and enhancing knowledge in matters related to clean sport and anti-doping, building its reputation as a leading national anti-doping organisation (NADO), and will continue to engage with ASP on such research.

Read the full report here.

ASP Research Report_UKAD_March2022.pdf