UK Anti-Doping’s chief executive, Andy Parkinson, says the organisation would back the introduction of lie-detector tests and believes the authorities need to be more innovative in their fight against offenders.
Evidence from a polygraph test was accepted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport during the cases of the Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador and the Chinese judo champion Tong Wen and could be used more prevalently by athletes trying to argue their innocence in the future.
A demonstration test was carried out on Wednesday at a Tackling Doping in Sport conference at Twickenham, measuring a stress response automatically generated by a person when questioned, with experts able to tell whether an individual is telling the truth.
Any formal introduction of lie-detector testing would have to be approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency but Parkinson says the UK is always looking for new methods to improve chances of positive and accurate tests.
“Potentially the lie detector could provide some assurance when you ask a banned athlete if they are doping over the period of their suspension,” he said. “It might give you additional assurance that the athlete is taking that ban seriously. There is some potential around it.
“The premise of looking at lie detectors and hair testing is based on the fact that we need to be innovative. I think we need to be more innovative. If you can do it and do it reliably, then great. We would only bring it in if it was approved by Wada and the Court of Arbitration for Sport as a legitimate means for presenting evidence.
“We’ve looked into it and I think it’s similar to hair testing in that there are some benefits – any test in anti-doping for evidence needs to be able to be implemented on a worldwide basis. If it is used it cannot just be the single piece of evidence. It should give you an indication rather than a definitive yes or no.”
Rob Koehler, Wada’s director of education and programme development, said: “Like anything else we are always open to suggestions. The code is not Wada’s code; we take advice from all of our stakeholders. If there are good ideas out there, then we should never shut them down.”
Tim Herman, a lawyer for Lance Armstrong, claimed last year that he “wouldn’t challenge” a lie-detector test and in the Contador and Tong cases both athletes passed polygraph tests saying they had not knowingly taken the steroid clenbuterol, despite testing positive for the substance.
Tong was cleared of a doping violation by CAS and had her suspension annulled. Contador was given a backdated ban.
Mike Morgan, a lawyer for Squire Sanders, who represented Contador, said athletes must choose to take lie-detector tests and not be forced to do so. “If you’re forcing someone to take the test and they don’t want to take it, it increases the unlikelihood of an inaccurate test,” said Morgan.
“There is still a margin of error and the possibility of a test not being accurate, so it can never be definitive. If you’re an athletic authority you’re not going to hang your hat on one polygraph result but what it could do is help in an investigation.”
UK Anti-Doping chief executive backs use of lie detectors – The Guardian