Wales politics

Drugs in sport focus of updated substance misuse plan

Man lifting weights

Sports players taking performance-enhancing drugs face a closer watch under a new plan to tackle substance misuse.

Training to spot the effects of so-called legal highs will also be offered to health workers, police and others.

Targeted campaigns to warn young people via social media and older people through charities will be boosted.

Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said advice had been taken on how best to spend £50m a year on the problem.

The three-year plan will update and round off a ten-year strategy - Working Together to Reduce Harm - launched in 2008.

It sets out how the Welsh Government will work with Public Health Wales (PHW), the police and other agencies to reduce the impact of such activity, including the number of drug and alcohol-related deaths.

It includes a UK-wide surveillance programme led by academics to assess the scale of the problem of drugs like steroids in Wales and the harm that results.

The system works by recording all needle and syringe programme activity across Wales in the Harm Reduction Database, which also notes when steroid users seek medical help for adverse effects of the drug.

Sport Wales will also help organise a summit on the misuse of performance-enhancing drugs, due to take place in November.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A range of new psychoactive substances - so-called legal highs - have been banned since May

The plan also updates advice on tackling problems from new psychoactive substances - also known as legal highs - which have been banned from sale on the high street since May.

"Every year we invest almost £50m in tackling substance misuse," Ms Evans said.

"We ran an extensive consultation exercise last year to ensure our latest delivery plan would make the most effective use of this money.

"We have taken on board the suggestions that came out of the process, including actions to ensure that services are accessible to everyone who might need to use them."

In April, Pontypool lock Adam Scanlon became the 14th Welsh rugby player to be banned after failing a drugs test.

The two-year ban came after the chief executive of UK sport's anti-doping body said a "societal problem" could be behind drug use in Welsh rugby.

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