Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport, has today stated her belief that the current structure of sports funding in the UK is the best solution to delivering Olympic and Paralympic success in Beijing, London and beyond. Campbell was speaking in response to publication of "Raising the Bar", the report emanating from the Independent Sports Review led by former sports ministers Lord Moynihan and Kate Hoey.
The report recommends the abolishment of UK Sport and Sport England, to be replaced by a new Sports Foundation acting as an 'investment bank’ for sport. UK Sport’s existing responsibilities for high-performance sport would, under the plan, be transferred to the Sports Foundation which would set guidelines for the distribution of Lottery and Exchequer funds to Olympic and Paralympic sports.
"As an organisation passionate about delivering sporting success in the UK, we welcome all positive contributions to the debate on how this can best be achieved," said Campbell. "The Independent Sports Review involved and consulted many sporting figures whose views we respect. However, we do not believe that its recommendations regarding the structure of sports funding are appropriate for the current time."
Last week the Government announced that from 1 April 2006, a one-stop approach to high-performance sport would be created by transferring full responsibility for its funding and development to UK Sport, a decision which Campbell feel is the right one for the athletes.
"A 'single agency’ has effectively been introduced already as far as high performance sport in the UK is concerned," she said. "Last Friday the Government announced that UK Sport will take full responsibility for identifying and then supporting our most talented athletes, streamlining the system and giving all Olympic and Paralympic sports a 'single front door’ for funding and support. In a devolved world that is as close to the single agency model as you are ever going to get."
Campbell pointed to the positive response from the sporting community to this announcement and stressed the importance of now being allowed to concentrate on the task in hand.
"In making this decision the Government listened to those involved in high performance sport and gave them what they wanted," said Campbell. "They recognise that the worlds of high performance and community sport are vastly different and need to be treated as such. The sports themselves have warmly welcomed this development and like ourselves now want to get on with the business of delivering. The last thing that is needed now is more change - a period of stability and continuity is essential to deliver successful performances in Beijing and – crucially – London in 2012."
As well as funding, the Independent Sports Review also looked into the issue of anti-doping, responsibility for which currently lies with UK Sport in its role as National Anti-Doping Organisation for the UK. The Review concluded that 'a new, state of the art independent anti-doping agency is required; this agency should be backed up by statutory powers’.
"This is an issue which has been aired many times before over many years and on which there are strong view on both sides," said Campbell. "We have full confidence in the existing set-up and our work as the national anti-doping agency which continues to set world standards in both testing and education. Our focus remains on ensuring full compliance to the World Anti-Doping Code in the UK which, with the excellent partnerships we now have in place with governing bodies, we are well on the way to achieving."
This is the third independent review of UK Sport’s anti-doping function in the last 18 months, following those last year of consultants PMP and the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Both of these reviews felt UK Sport was best placed to deliver the UK’s anti-doping programme, with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee concluding that there was "absolutely no evidence" to suggest an independent agency is required.
Campbell said: "We have worked hard to implement the recommendations of the PMP and Culture, Media and Sport Committee reviews, highlighted by the setting up of an Independent Scrutiny Panel to ensure there are no conflicts of interest in our work, and the launch of our 100% Me programme which is already recognised as a world leader in terms of drug-free sport education."