A recent BBC Wales survey has highlighted the increasing levels of doping in the amateur game in Wales.
The data showed that 15 of 100 people surveyed admitted some form of use of performance enhancing drugs and that only 5 of the 15 had been tested in the last three years.
This calls into question the integrity of our game at the grass roots level. I decided to have a look at the UK Anti Doping Agency (UKAD) website and the banned athletes list.
Of the total 52 athletes current serving bans from 2 years to lifetime bans there are 14 from Rugby League, 16 from Rugby Union which further breaks down to 10 from the Welsh RFU, 1 from the Scottish RFU and 5 from the English RFU.
This equates to 0.02% of registered Welsh players, 0.003% of registered Scottish players and 0.0003% of registered English players. On the surface this doesn’t look like a problem and that it really is the minority of players taking part in this illegal activity.
However, as always numbers can be misleading, from personal experience, having played the game for 9 years as an over 18 in which I was never drug tested, I have on occasion heard some players discuss the use of nandrolone in the changing room before games. This makes me question whether this is much more of a widespread problem and what the real proportion of players is that are taking performance enhancing drugs.
So who should the emphasis be on for catching the dopers? UKAD or the players hearing these conversations? I think the answer is a combination of the two and the Welsh RFU are being proactive in releasing a video with their captain Sam Warburton urging people not to take performance enhancing drugs and reporting those people that do.
There is no place in sport for this sort of behaviour so lets not turn a blind eye to it and make sure this gets stamped out as it goes against the respect of your opponents and teams mates which is a key tenant of Rugby Union. We all want to compete on a level playing field so lets help ourselves in making sure this is the case.