Kirsty Coventry warns young athletes about effects of doping

The double Olympic champion says more 'conversations' are needed to help sportspeople stay clean.

Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry says young athletes need to be better advised about the effects of doping.

The IOC Athletes' Commission chair, who is also her country's Minister of Sport, made the comments following an IOC panel on 'Combatting Doping in Sport: a Battle Worth Fighting' at the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires.

"It's so important to have those conversations with young athletes to say 'you are good enough by yourself, you don't need to take extra.'"

Health consequences

"The negative effect that doping has on your body is still something that we don't know the full impact.

"Some female athletes now can't have children; some male athletes have had liver issues and cancer issues," Coventry noted.

"Have the respect for yourself and your body, you are worth so much more than putting a substance in your body."

The retired swimmer, who won 200m backstroke gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, added that the Athletes' Commission, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the World Olympians Association are all working on programmes investigating the effects of doping on athletes' health.

"WADA is looking into how and what medical issues athletes are facing, and also the WOA. They're looking into physical health, to try to get athletes to talk about the issues they are facing, and how and why. Then it's about putting all that data together and communicating."

The 'Combatting Doping in Sport: A Battle Worth Fighting' panel discussion

Next steps

Coventry attended the panel alongside former cyclist David Millar, who was banned for using performance-enhancing drugs before becoming an anti-doping campaigner, and Russian doping whistleblowers Yulia Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov.

"I still, today, find it hard how athletes doped. I don't get it. But when I listen to the Stepanovs, to Yulia, to David, you better understand that it was the environments they were in.

"And maybe that's where we have to start tackling anti-doping — breaking those kinds of environments down, so athletes don't feel the pressure of having to dope."

The seven-time Olympic medallist also spoke about the World Anti-Doping Agency's recent decision to reinstate Russia from its suspension.

Kirsty Coventry on Russia: "The clouds are breaking"

The IOC Athletes' Commission chair says people need to work together "to fi...

"The Russian case brought dark clouds over the entire sporting community. Now it's about people coming together, working together, to figure out how do we allow this to not happen again.

"How do we help athletes stay clean and not get coerced into a situation of doping? It's something that will take some time.

"That's what we are working on now."

Kirsty Leigh COVENTRY

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Number of medals

7 Olympic medals


Olympic Games

5 Olympic Games