Britain takes new step in bolstering anti-doping measures

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LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) Britain has tightened its anti-doping measures by awarding a contract to set up an independent panel to hear doping cases.

UK Sport announced today that the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) will be responsible for delivering and managing the national panel which is designed to stop sports' governing bodies dealing with doping cases themselves.

The new system should be in place early next year.

The move follows criticism earlier this year from a cross-party committee of British MPs who accused the government and UK Sport of complacency about putting in place a robust system to catch drug cheats.

''UK Sport can now take a step back, ensuring the panel has the independence it needs to instil confidence among sports and public alike in the handling of doping cases,'' John Scott, director of Drug-Free Sport at UK Sport, said in a statement.

In the past, governing bodies dealt with doping cases themselves, raising concerns about conflicts of interest.

The appointment of a national anti-doping body, which will consist of lawyers, ex-athletes and administrators, has been welcomed by British Swimming.

''British Swimming welcomes this important step in modernising the UK's anti-doping processes,'' chief executive David Sparkes said.

''The creation of an independent, robust national panel will ensure anyone endeavouring to cheat is dealt with fairly.'' The panel is expected to hear between 60 and 70 cases each year.

REUTERS BJR RN1817

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