Doping Most Serious Threat to London 2012: Hugh Robertson

Doping is the most serious threat to the integrity of next year's London Olympic Games, British Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson said on Thursday.

Fabrie Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Speaking on the second and final day of an anti-doping conference organized by the World Sports Law Report at Twickenham rugby stadium, Robertson said corruption and doping were the biggest problems facing modern sport.

"Running into the Olympic cycle doping is the most serious threat in sporting terms for the London organizing committee," he said.

"Remember that 80 percent of unsecured income that the London organizing committee needs to raise is secured against ticketing. If people buying these tickets cease to believe that what they are paying quite large sums of money for is anything other than a fair contest then the integrity of the Games will be lost. It's as simple and complicated as that."

On Wednesday World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) director general David Howman startled delegates when he said the criminal underworld now controlled a substantial part of world sport.

Howman also said trafficking in prohibited performance-enhancing drugs was more lucrative than dealing in heroin.

Ticket Touts

Robertson told Reuters he had subsequently talked to Howman. "I think that the lesson I took from my conversation was it's a very serious threat and it's big business for criminal bodies," he said.

"The one thing that we could probably add that would corroborate that is that when we looked at the ticket touting issue in London 2012, we had always had a policy against a general provision of anti-touting measures.

"A United Kingdom policing operation identified touting as a special threat and upped the fineand that was on the basis that criminal operators would see that as an opportunity to launder money because of the volume of tickets and the price of them."

Nicola Sapstead, the director of operations for the UK anti-doping agency, told the conference that a confidential 24-hour hotline by which athletes could pass on information about doping had been a success.

Sapstead said the hotline was not being used as often as the agency would have liked but the information it had received was "incredibly useful."

Richard Budgett, the chief medical officer for the Games, said 5,000 dope tests would be conducted compared to 4,500 at the 2008 Beijing Games. He said the number of tests would reach a daily peak of 400.