Sport sector needs to be more ethically proactive, says former UK Sport chief executive
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Sport sector needs to be more ethically proactive, says former UK Sport chief executive

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The sport sector needs to be more proactive in analysing whether athletes are being pushed too far in pursuit of medal success, according to the former chief executive of UK Sport.

Talking at today’s SAPCA Annual Conference in Warwickshire (6 February), John Steele said there was a case for creating a central body to analyse the culture of elite sport and to define “what’s acceptable and what’s not”.

“I think there will be a theme around the Tokyo Olympic cycle of ethics and integrity in sport,” he said. “If that’s tarnished the industry will take a downturn.”

Steele said that while offences such as doping and bribing were “obvious and illegal”, more needed to be done to address cultural issues such as athletes being pushed to the extent that their health was in danger.

The former Youth Sport Trust CEO also referenced the independent review British Cycling has conducted to look at the balance of professional skills and leadership in the organisation, and the athletes’ experience, and encouraged other sports to do the same.

“We need to start getting a handle on it and start to be a bit more objective about it,” said Steele. “We need to be more proactive about the criteria we look at in terms of where we’re prepared to go and win the medals. And that’s not ‘anywhere’.”

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