Should athletes be fitted with microchips?

Photo: Paul Wilkinson/Flickr

Photo: Paul Wilkinson/Flickr.


By Mads A. Wickstrøm
Chief executive of World Olympians Association (WOA) asks athletes to be fitted with microchips in fight against doping.

Speaking to anti-doping leaders at a Westminster forum on integrity in sport on October 10, Chief executive of World Olympians Association (WOA), Mike Miller, stressed the need to fit athletes with microchips in order to succeed in the fight against doping in sport.

According to Miller, recent developments in technology will allow an implant to track people’s movements and detect performance-enhancing drugs in their systems. The benefit of microchipping, Miller said, lies in the fact that microchips are hard to manipulate.

“Microchips get over the issue of whether the technology can be manipulated because they have no control over the device. The problem with the current anti-doping system is that all it says is that at a precise moment in time there are no banned substances but we need a system which says you are illegal substance-free at all times and if there are changes in markers they will be detected,” Miller explained, according to the Guardian.

The idea of microchips being inserted into athletes was met with mixed reactions. UK Anti-Doping chief executive, Nicole Sapstead, warned that a move to microchips would represent an invasion of athletes’ privacy.

“We welcome verified developments in technology which could assist the fight against doping. However, can we ever be sure that this type of thing could never be tampered with or even accurately monitor all substances and methods on the prohibited list,” said Sapstead, as reported by the Guardian.

“There is a balance to be struck between a right to privacy versus demonstrating that you are clean. We would actively encourage more research in whether there are technologies in development that can assist anti-doping organisations in their endeavours,” she added.

Miller, however, asserted that implementing microchips would do little in terms of harming athletes – asking why we are prepared to ‘chip dogs, but not ourselves?’.

“We need to keep in front of the cheats. I believe that, in order to stop doping, we need to chip our athletes where the latest technology is there. Now, some people say it’s an invasion of privacy. Well, it’s a club and people don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to follow the rules,” argued Miller.

Miller is not the first person in sport to propose athletes are microchipped in the fight against doping. Previously, focus has been on whether athletes’ movements should be tracked, allowing testers to locate them at all times rather than relying on them reporting their whereabouts for a one-hour period each day, as they are required to do under current rules on out-of-competition sample collection, writes the Telegraph.


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