UKAD CEO Nicole Sapstead and Olympic heptathlon medallist Kelly Sotherton have said not enough athletes “speak out”

Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton has said that more “clean voices” need to be heard when it comes to the topic of doping in sport.

Sotherton was giving her views as part of a roundtable discussion session which also involved UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead and was hosted by vitamin and supplement supplier Healthspan Elite at the end of January.

“The people who represent clean sport, you don’t see them speaking up,” said the former heptathlete.

Sotherton went on to give insight into her own experiences as an elite athlete and shared her views on why athletes might decide to cheat, saying: “There are so many reasons. I never had that thought when I was an athlete, I just thought a cheat is a cheat regardless, but you learn about these different cheats and that there are different reasons why people cheat and then you put it in perspective.

“It is not necessarily the athlete’s fault, however obviously with strict liability it is. However, I think there is a lot of coercion within structures that make them cheat.

“I think the majority of athletes don’t grow up to be a cheat,” she said. “They are coerced or they are made to.”

Sapstead commented: “A lot of athletes fear the repercussions of speaking out. Especially if you have got a very corrupt infrastructure around you, maybe there is far more to lose by speaking out which is why they don’t.

“You have to applaud those athletes that will stand up and will put their hands up and point the finger because it is not comfortable for them to do but it is the right thing to do. Not enough athletes speak out.”

She added: “There is nothing more frustrating from an anti-doping body’s perspective than to have athletes after the event go ‘yeah, well I thought as much’ or ‘I had seen some stuff’. Well, why didn’t you say something? You had the chance to try and right a wrong but you chose not to. Does that make you effectively almost complicit in what that individual chose to do?”

You can view video footage of the roundtable discussion below, while further footage from the session can be watched via Vimeo here.

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