MEP calls for FP5 to champion fight against doping
The European Commission has been urged to increase the funding available through the Fifth Framework Programme to tackle the growing problem of doping in sport. A report to be presented to the plenary session of the European Parliament on Thursday September 7 by the Spanish MEP Theresa Zabell proposes greater Community support for the battle against the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. She maintains that doping is not restricted to professional sports and is now widespread in amateur sports such as bodybuilding and keep fit. Doping has therefore developed into a wider public health problem and urgent action is needed both to protect the health of sportsmen and women and to maintain public confidence in the fairness of sporting events. The Commission already plans to fund three studies into the causes of the increase in doping, its effects on young athletes and on raising public awareness of the problem. Ms Zabell, a five times world champion and double Olympic gold medal winning yachtswoman, believes the programme should be extended to include research into areas such as improved detection methods and variation in levels of endogenous hormones. The report proposes a number of further EU initiatives against substance abuse in sport. It invites the Parliament and Council to submit proposals to ensure effective participation in the World Anti-Doping, which is due to be fully operational by 2002. The Parliament has stated that on historical and practical grounds the institution should have its headquarters in Europe. Within the Community, Ms Zabell suggests that Member States should encourage sports federations to insist that athletes take a compulsory medical test before being granted a license to compete. Meanwhile, the EU should extend the terms of the EU treaty to include legislation on sports-related issues and so establish a legal basis for action in this area.