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Doping testing regime in place for Singapore's national athletes, with those at higher risk tested more often

There is a framework of rules and standards to keep sports in Singapore free of doping, says Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua.

Doping testing regime in place for Singapore's national athletes, with those at higher risk tested more often

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Eric Chua speaking in Parliament on Oct 4, 2022.

SINGAPORE: There is a framework of rules and standards to keep sports in Singapore free of doping, which includes the use of both recreational drugs and performance-enhancing drugs, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Eric Chua on Tuesday (Oct 4).

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Chua said that this aims to equip national athletes with the information, tools and values for them to exercise "sound judgement and choices" when it comes to the use of drugs.

There are two key strategies by which this is implemented - through education and prevention, as well as detection and deterrence, he added.

Mr Chua was responding to questions from MPs Dr Wan Rizal (PAP-Jalan Besar) and Darryl David (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) on measures to protect Singapore’s carded athletes from the misuse of drugs, and whether the Government or National Sports Associations (NSA) have programmes that regularly test national and elite athletes for recreational drug use and performance-enhancing drug use.

The Government established Anti-Doping Singapore (ADS) as the national anti-doping authority in Singapore in 2010.

"SportSG (Sport Singapore) works with ADS and the broader sporting fraternity to ensure that sport in Singapore is free of doping, and that our national athletes compete fairly and safely, and that they can be upheld as role models for Singapore and Singaporeans," said Mr Chua, who pointed out that ADS oversees a "robust" doping testing regime.

"ADS develops and regularly reviews a test distribution plan for athletes, with higher testing frequencies for athletes assessed to be at higher risk of doping. Several factors are considered in determining the risk level of doping, such as the athlete’s performance and type of sports," he said.

ADS’ testing regime covers both in-competition and out-of-competition tests.

The authority also relies on intelligence, such as whistleblowing sources, to identify and investigate allegations of drug abuse, including following up to conduct tests on alleged offenders, Mr Chua added.

Education is also a "key preventive measure" to discourage intentional or inadvertent doping, and this is done through various means such as the mandatory completion of modules on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s e-learning platform and ADS working with NSAs to plan, implement and monitor programmes for athletes, said Mr Chua.

"To prevent inadvertent doping, ADS provides the ‘Check Drugs’ function on its website to enable athletes and support personnel to check on the prohibited status of a particular drug or substance," he added.

"The database contains more than 9,000 medications registered in Singapore and is updated monthly. For medications not on the database, athletes can and should check with a sports physician, or with ADS directly."

ADS imposes sanctions on athletes found to have violated anti-doping rules.

These range from a few months to a lifetime ban, depending on the degree of fault and intention, type of substance used and aggravating circumstances, said Mr Chua.

Other sanctions may also be imposed such as SportSG suspending the spexScholarship or other support offered to a carded athlete.

An NSA may also suspend training support for an athlete or their selection for competitions. The Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC) or Singapore National Paralympic Committee (SNPC) can also separately suspend the selection of the athlete for any major Games for the appropriate period.

Last week, Sport Singapore (SportSG) said that it would suspend all support for national swimmers Joseph Schooling, Amanda Lim and Teong Tzen Wei, after they confessed to consuming controlled drugs overseas.

For a month beginning from Oct 1, the three carded athletes - who come under a sporting high performance scheme - will not receive training assistance grants or have access to sports science and sports medicine facilities and services, said SportSG then.

The Ministry of Defence also said earlier that Schooling would no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while in National Service.

Lim was given a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act for possessing a drug utensil.

It is illegal for Singaporeans and permanent residents to consume cannabis, whether in Singapore or overseas.

The substance is also on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned in-competition drugs.

On Tuesday, Mr Chua stressed that it was also important to consider a rehabilitative approach to help the athlete not offend again.

Said Mr Chua: "The Government and the local sporting fraternity look upon the misuse of drugs as a serious matter.

"SportSG, ADS and the fraternity will continue to work together to underscore the importance of complying with Singapore’s laws on drugs and anti-doping rules at all times."

Source: CNA/mt(jo)
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