Doping in Sport at SCI

SCI is a forum connecting science and business people to advance the commercial application of science for public benefit. The institute is based in the heart of Belgravia, nestled among the many embassies in Belgrave Square. Their evening lectures are free and open to all.


Their latest lecture was entitled: Doping in Sport – what does the future look like? It was given by Prof David Mottram, currently an education advisor for UK Anti-Doping and expert on the use of drugs in sport. He commenced the lecture by asking whether we were all suitably performance enhanced after the tea and coffee reception. With this he makes his point. Drugs are pervasive.

Mottram explained that there has been a long standing culture of trying to find an edge in sport. As far as he can recall, it goes back to Tommy Simpson in 1967 who took Amphetamine and died whilst ascending Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France; proving that performance enhancing drugs can be fatal.

“Testing alone is not enough to lead the fight against doping in sport,” claims World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey. Mottram suggested that in the future, WADA need a four-fold focus to reduce the chances of athletes doping. Focusing on the supply and demand of drugs, new research, innovations in detection such as athlete biological passports, and raising awareness of WADA regulations to athletes and their personnel.

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Some fascinating statistics were shared by Mottram that are not often highlighted in the media, who prefer to overemphasize the use of drugs in sport; engendering fear in athletes that they are the only ones not using. Out of 283,304 samples analysed by WADA in 2014, 3,866 tested positive. This equates to 1.36% of athletes doping. These official statistics are unlikely to offer us an entire perspective. But still, I’d rather take stats over hyperbole any day.

“I do fear for the future of sport,” Mottram concedes. Will we be watching sport or watching freak shows? “We’ll never stop cheating in sport, but we (as in WADA) owe it to the sports fans to keep fighting.”

Doping in sport is not a new phenomenon, but still, the topic couldn’t be more relevant to today. SCI aim to be an inter-disciplinary forum, sharing “information, ideas, new innovations and research.” Both the content and the delivery of this lecture was excellent.

If you’re interested in looking a little closer into topical matters, the next free, public, evening lecture hosted by SCI is with Prof Jack Winkler and Dr Robert Winwood entitled: Fat Lies, Thin Truths.


 Find out more by visiting or contact 020 7598 1500.

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