Sniffer dogs join war on doping in UK

Doping samples (Getty Images)
Doping samples (Getty Images)

London - Sniffer dogs and a 50 percent increase in tests are among the wide-ranging new measures to be used in UK Anti-Doping's war on drug cheats. 

UKAD has been given an additional $8.7 million by the British government over the next two years, boosting its annual budget to $19 million. 

Speaking to journalists at the launch of its strategic plan for 2018-22, UKAD chair Trevor Pearce said the extra money had enabled the agency to hire around 10 new staff and set a target of 6 000 publicly-funded tests a year by 2022. 

These extra tests, he said, would provide a greater deterrent, allow UKAD to test sports it has previously not had the resources to cover, go further down the pyramid and produce more data for its eight-strong intelligence and investigations unit. 

But with fewer than one in 50 tests coming up positive - a rate most experts believe does not reflect the true prevalence of doping - UKAD knows testing is only part of the answer, which is where its "innovations commission" comes in. 

"We are looking at innovative disruptive activities that could range from somebody in a UKAD jacket at an event, as an obvious deterrent, to using sniffer dogs to detect money or doping products," Pearce said. 

"If we were allowed access there's no reason why those sorts of tactics couldn't be applied to those seeking to track performance-enhancing substances into events or facilities. 

"If athletes know they will be at an event it may have an effect. We are now exploring this with the (National Crime Agency)." 

UKAD's director of operations Pat Myhill said the use of dogs is only one of 32 "disruptive techniques" his team has come up with.

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