Athlete voice vital for future of sport

A genuine athlete voice is at the heart of duty of care in sport, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson told an industry conference in Cardiff today.

And while there are some good examples of progress since the former Paralympian's Duty of Care in Sport Review, she highlighted that more still needs to be done.

Speaking at the Sport Ethics and Integrity Conference 2018, she said:

"I must admit there wasn't universal enthusiasm when I first set out to pull the work together. In fact, I was told by many people there wasn't a need for it.

"There was a shift in opinion when several sports issues started going public. I had many of those people come back to me to say they didn't know there were these issues in their sport.

"Should we have seen it coming? Yes, we should have.

"I don't think we need more money it's about using what we have in the best way we can.

Athlete Panel

"It's not just about the medals we have to be realistic. Elite sport is tough but that's no excuse to treat people in any way you want.

 "There are so many good things that sport can bring, it's not just about gold medals.

"A genuine athlete voice is really important.

"The UK-wide debate (through UK Sport) is a good thing and we need to embrace that debate.

"The Welsh approach at the Commonwealth Games shows that we can be successful without medal targets.

"We can't keep adding one more to a medal target and keep expecting great things, we need to think differently. We have to challenge sports in a way that they haven't been challenged before.

"I'm not willing for my 16 year-old daughter and other young people to be in a sporting system that treats them poorly."

The conference was a partnership between Sport Wales and Swansea University, sponsored by Loosemores Solicitors.

Director of Elite Performance at Sport Wales, Brian Davies commented:

"The conference exemplified that, whilst sport isn't ignorant of the issues in the debate, there is plenty still to do. Sport continues to be an incredibly powerful tool for good but sometimes the moral compass needs a reset and I'm really pleased that the delegates in the room were very positive about the actions that need to be taken."

Other speakers included Professor Nicola Phillips of Cardiff University and Team Wales Chef de Mission at Gold Coast 2018, delivering a keynote speech about the responsibilities to athletes. The conference also heard from Nicole Sapstead of UK Anti-Doping, John Donnelly of UK Sport and Dr David McArdle of Stirling University and former athletes David Cotterill (football) and Mica Moore (athletics and bobsleigh).  The conference was opened by the Welsh Government's Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.