London- All athletes need to be fitted with microchips to stop drug cheats and protect clean sport, according to a leading representative of international sports people.
Mike Miller, the chief executive of the World Olympians Association (WOA) and chairman of the Association of Football Agents – and former chief executive of the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) – said the technology was coming that would allow an implant both to track people’s movements and detect any performance-enhancing drugs in their systems.
“We chip our dogs,” he told a Westminster Media Forum on integrity and duty of care in sport.
“We’re prepared to do that and it doesn’t seem to harm them. So, why aren’t we prepared to chip ourselves?”
Admitting he was “no Steve Jobs”, the man who leads an organization which boasts of representing 100,000 living Olympians, also called for drugs cheats to be banned for life.
“We need to keep in front of the cheats,” he said.
“I believe that, in order to stop doping, we need to chip our athletes where the latest technology is there.
“Now, some people say it’s an invasion of privacy. Well, it’s a club and people don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to follow the rules.”
Stressing this was his personal opinion and not that of the WOA, he added: “The technology is not quite there yet but it’s coming.
“The problem with the current anti-doping system is that all it says is that, at a precise moment in time, there are no banned substances.
The chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, Nicole Sapstead, was skeptical about Miller’s proposal.
“We welcome verified developments in technology which could assist the fight against doping,” she said.
“However, can we ever be sure that this type of thing could never be tampered with or even accurately monitor all substances and methods on the prohibited list?
“There is a balance to be struck between a right to privacy versus demonstrating that you are clean.
“We would actively encourage more research in whether there are technologies in development that can assist anti-doping organizations in their endeavors.”
Citing one case which included allegations of “domestic abuse”, she said: “It is quite clear to me that if there is abuse, bullying, or just inordinate pressure on an athlete to succeed, that immediately increases the risks of doping and incitement to dope.
“We should be alive to that risk, especially when we are talking about very young or very vulnerable athletes or athletes at the twilight of their career.”
She added: “Sometimes, what appears at first to be an anti-doping case, upon further investigation actually turns out to an issue of athlete welfare.
“We have uncovered harassment and bullying and have referred cases to the police and to the sports.
“In the main, the welfare issues relate to recreational drugs, supplement use or painkillers.
“UKAD has referred 17 cases in the past 12 months, because of clear welfare issues, to the appropriate authorities.”