Column: Jackson On Sports, Testing & More

March 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

[Opinion column written by OBA MP Susan Jackson]

Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year budgeted for the Anti-Doping Association continues to eat up the $1.034 million in grants and contributions to sporting associations. Approximately twenty sporting associations receive on average, $10,000 a year to support the development of youth training, except for the $100,000 grant awarded to the Bermuda Football Association.

Imagine the improved delivery of coaching and athletic training if government was able to reduce Anti-Doping Association operational costs like rent and double grants to local sport development? How does an athlete achieve elite athletic ability when so much money is allocated to a testing facility they may never use because there’s not enough money in training to get to the elite level?

It’s difficult to comprehend the logic behind small financial grants for athletic development and the high cost of drug testing to compete overseas.

The question bears asking why the Bermuda Anti-Doping Association grant is substantially more than support for athlete development?

Government has continually blamed the high cost of testing protocols, and this may be reflected in the reduced budget during the Covid pandemic shelter in place and fewer tests administered due to cancelled international sport competition. On the up side, Covid has also prompted scientists to develop quicker and less expensive testing protocols. Could these testing advancements be applied to anti-doping testing of the future? The solution may come from science.

The opening of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory may be an opportunity to reduce operational costs by merging the Anti-Doping testing center into one, more efficient center able to provide multiple testing services.

This disproportionate investment in anti-doping testing is not isolated to the Bermuda government. It’s an unintended consequence of small countries wishing to participate in international sport or to invite elite athletes to small countries for competition.

Bermuda Anti-Doping Association does maintain a register of local elite athletes including Dame Flora Duffy. International authorities do require regular reporting on the whereabouts of local athletes competing abroad, but Bermuda has very few to report and is presently limited to Dame Flora Duffy and a few elite athletes.

It’s time for the international sporting authorities and commissions responsible for international drug testing to re-examine the guidelines and sport anti-doping testing regime.

If government insists on granting nearly half a million each year toward anti-doping, government might consider expanding illicit drug testing to players before local national games as part of the Ministry’s upcoming National Sports Policy. This strategy may provide government a tool to encourage local sport governing bodies and sports clubs to introduce policies toward the advancement of sportsmanship. Introducing drug testing into the local sporting community may be the incentive to further improve the health of Bermuda’s sporting community.

- Susan Jackson

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Category: All, Sports

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