Athletes need to be fitted with microchips, in a similar way that dogs are, in the fight against drug cheats in sport, according to a leading representative of international sports people.
Mike Miller, the World Olympians Association chief executive, claimed that radical anti-doping methods – including implants to recognise the effects of banned substances – are needed to protect clean sport.
“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 organisation 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 focus has previously been on whether their movements should be tracked, allowing testers to locate them at all times rather than relying on them reporting their whereabouts for a one-hour period each day, as they are required to do under current rules on out-of-competition sample collection.
But although that would simplify the existing system for all involved, it would raise major issues with regards the right to privacy and even athlete welfare given the recent spate of leaks of confidential medical data by Russian hackers.
Nicole Sapstead, the UK Anti-Doping chief executive, was wary a move to microchips would represent an invasion of athletes’ privacy. “We welcome verified developments in technology which could assist the fight against doping. 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 organisations in their endeavours.”
“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.”