In 2018, I took over the anti-doping programme at Cricket Ireland and since then our focus has been that all players’ first experience with Anti-Doping must be education. With that in mind, I have worked with our National Anti-Doping Organisation at Sport Ireland to both develop and implement our Anti-Doping education plan. Cricket Ireland has been extremely fortunate to have extensive and willing support from Sport Ireland with regards to this.
The 3 main pieces of our anti-doping education plan included:
Target audience- this involved setting out our priority groups for anti-doping education. In the short term, we prioritised the groups subject to testing, which were the Men’s and Women’s senior set ups, and our men’s domestic players (subject to testing during Ireland’s Interprovincial competitions). Once we were able to achieve this, we extended to our Women’s domestic players. Although not subject to testing, we felt it was important to include this group in the event that a domestic player was selected for international duty, or the women’s domestic game and became subject to testing. Going forward we intend to expand our target audiences to include our men’s and woman’s pathways e.g. U19s and Academies etc.
Minimum Standards- The next focus was our minimum standards in relation to the content for our education programme. For this, we consulted with Sport Ireland to established what each player should be educated on. The content for this included the importance of AD measures to protect the integrity of our sport, the sample collection procedures, the consequences of an AD violation, education on supplements and best practices to ensure they are not using prohibited supplements and medications, Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUEs) and updates on products that may have come on and off the prohibited list year by year. We achieved this with annual AD education sessions led by Sport Ireland. We also insisted that all international and domestic players complete a Sport Ireland online education module that sets out sample collection procedures followed by multiple choice questions Players receive a certificate on successful completion. We are also in talks with Sport Ireland about educating a group of willing Cricket Ireland staff to be Anti-doping tutors that will be available to support players throughout the year.
Developing the plan- To ensure the timely delivery of our education programme, it was important to develop an education plan. Our plan set out the target groups, programme objectives, mandatory content, learning objectives, educational activities, time frames and resources required. The plan also included regular monitoring and evaluation of its progress and effectiveness. Each section was completed and agreed on prior to initiating the programme.
To conclude, any member setting out to develop their own anti-doping education plan should investigate whether their NADO is willing to assist with the planning, development and implementation their programme. In terms of financing the programme, there has been minimal cost to this due to support of Sport Ireland and their education department. There has however been significant time and human resource investment in the first instance to develop our programme and the hope is that the programme will develop further over time with less input required now that the wider education piece has been developed.