Olympics doping body distances itself from microchips for athletes suggestion

The World Olympians Association (WOA) has distanced itself from comments made by its chief executive Mike Miller on Tuesday when he suggested athletes could be fitted with microchips to tackle doping.

In a statement, WOA president Joel Bouzou said his organisation, which claims to represent 120,000 living Olympians around the world, was committed to creating a level playing field so hard-working athletes can compete against each other fairly.

But the statement explained Miller was only offering a personal opinion, "as a way of fostering debate", and it is not WOA policy.

"We will always be at the forefront of anti-doping initiatives and welcome open and constructive debate on the best way to achieve doping and cheating free sport," said Bouzou.

"However, the views expressed recently by our chief executive Mike Miller were of a personal nature, as Mike has made clear, and do not represent WOA policy."

Miller was speaking at a sports ethics conference in London when he said: "We’re a nation of dog lovers, we’re prepared to chip our dogs and it doesn’t seem to harm them, so why aren’t we prepared to chip ourselves?

"Some people say it’s an invasion of privacy, well, sport is a club and people don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to, if they can’t follow the rules."

The former boss of World Rugby did say at the time that he was speaking in a personal capacity but his comments have provoked a strong response.

UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead told Press Association Sport her agency would welcome any new technology that can help catch drugs cheats but said "a balance must be struck between a right to privacy versus demonstrating that you are clean".

She also raised the point it might not even work and could possibly be tampered with.

Her reservations were echoed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which in a statement said while it was "constantly looking into new technologies" to protect clean athletes, it is vital to maintain a balance between sport’s rules and an athlete’s rights.

For his part, Miller seems surprised and more than a little annoyed about the reaction his musings have caused.

"It saddens me that such an important topic has been trivialised by taking out of context one comment among many made to foster debate on how best to strengthen trust in sport and drive the cheats out of sport," said Miller.

"I made it very clear these were personal comments and not WOA policy and also that it was not something that had been discussed by the WOA."

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