HC Deb 22 February 1993 vol 219 cc663-4
1. Mr. Menzies Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he will meet the chairman of the Sports Council to discuss the problem of drug abuse in sport.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Peter Brooke)

I expect to have a number of meetings this year with the chairman of the Sports Council to discuss issues of mutual concern, including the abuse of drugs in sport.

Mr. Campbell

What does it take to shake the Government out of their complacency about the problem of drug abuse by sportsmen? It is increasingly clear that, although evidence in the past suggested that anabolic steroids, for example, were being used by track and field athletes, the use of such potentially life-threatening drugs is more widespread throughout a variety of sports. Is not it time that the Government did something much more concrete and definite to discourage sportsmen from abusing themselves in this way?

Mr. Brooke

I do not accept for a moment the opening sentence of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has been asked to consider the possibility of bringing steroids under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Home Secretary will consider its advice before reaching a decision.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Britain has some of the best drug detection techniques in the world? Do not other sports bodies in the world frequently come here for advice?

Mr. Brooke

I totally accept my hon. Friend's comment. Our reputation is widely praised and my hon. Friend is right about other countries seeking our advice.

Mr. Pendry

Does the Secretary of State recognise, none the less, that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the Sports Council, the British Olympic Association and others urge the need to regulate the use of anabolic steroids in particular not only in sport but in gymnasiums up and down the country? I recognise that the Government have a problem in finding a legislative peg on which to hang such controls, but will he join Opposition Members in urging that we have a full debate in order that this serious problem, which affects sport and society generally, is ironed out in the House, which may assist the Government in paving the way for such legislation as asked for by the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell).

Mr. Brooke

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for joining the Opposition in concern about the issue. The problem was considered in our debate on sport shortly before Christmas. An Adjournment debate would offer us the opportunity to consider the full facts.