As with the start of any new Olympic and Paralympic cycle, the next few months will see an influx of new athletes joining World Class Programmes of various sports.

With the environment that they are joining likely to be different to anything that they have experienced before, we’ve asked some of our current and former members for their advice on getting used to the new challenges and opportunities which come with becoming a World Class Programme athlete.

Here, weightlifter and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Athlete Commission member, Jo Calvino, explains the importance of developing an understanding of anti-doping rules and procedures, and outlines the help that is on hand for athletes.

“It’s always exciting when you are recognised for your performances, when all the hard work and effort day after day pays off, and you are selected to the performance squad in your sport. However, with that comes a higher level of responsibility, and a need to thoroughly understand the requirements and obligations of an elite athlete.

“Anti-doping awareness is just one of these responsibilities, but it can be the most important one, not only in competition but as part of your everyday routines as well. It’s also your responsibility as an elite athlete to promote fair and clean performance in your sport.

“UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is the body which oversees and coordinates testing in the UK, meaning that all World Class Programme athletes can be subject to out of competition testing under UKAD’s rules. You may already have some awareness or experiences of anti-doping and the drug testing requirements. At first it can all feel overwhelming, with the need to fill out forms and have information to hand, but it does become a familiar process over time.

“I cannot express enough the importance of keeping up to date and knowledgeable on all things anti-doping, ranging from the prohibited list and checking any medications or supplements, through to the procedures to complete a test. 

“The good thing is there are some great support tools to help you understand and check if you aren’t sure. UKAD has online education courses that can help you, your parents/guardians and coaches to all improve your individual and collective knowledge.

“It’s essential that those supporting you understand the importance of anti-doping as much as you do, and I would advise you to utilise your sport’s anti-doping lead or team doctor if you have any questions.

“If you do need to take medication you can check if it’s ok on the Global DRO platform, or if it’s a supplement, always check for the ‘Informed Sport’ logo and make sure the brand is approved. If ever in doubt or unsure, do not use them; remember you are 100% responsible for what goes into your body.

“Some further top tips to help you: 

“Overall whilst it may seem like a lot of information to remember and provide, if you have this stored in your kit bag or on your phone, this will make the form filling and process a lot easier, and over time doing a test will feel routine.

“Keeping up to date is so much easier now with the power of social media, so give UKAD a follow (Instagram and Twitter: @ukantidoping), and you will be well on your way to keeping updated and informed.”

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