UK Sports' 'lap-dancing' threat to athletes branded ridiculous
Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell branded the threat by UK Sport to remove Lottery Funding from sportsmen and women who attend lap-dancing or strip clubs as “completely ridiculous”.
New guidelines for eligibility for funding released on Wednesday by UK Sport, which oversees sports funding for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, included a line in its section on misconduct and disrepute which read “attending a lap dancing or strip club regardless of gender”.
It was described on Wednesday by the chief executive of one sports body as akin to treating sports like “a nanny state”, and Campbell, who won Olympic gold at bantamweight and has since turned professional, concurred.
He said: “It’s laughable. I just find it hard to fathom how they came up with this. It’s just completely ridiculous. Going to a lap club or strip club is just harmless fun. Why would they want to tell athletes what to do in their private lives?
“Anyone taking their sport seriously would not be out in nightclubs anyway. We are role models, and we are looked up to. I’d rather see them concentrate on banning Lottery funded athletes if they are smoking, or have been drunk and disorderly, rather than this.”
Campbell cited the hypothetical example of a female athlete on a hen party attending a Chippendales Show. “It’s a scenario that happens every day. It would just be harmless fun. It’s a ludicrous rule.”
A spokesperson for UK Sport said on Wednesday night that it was not an issue which “had been alerted to or was being clamped down on”, but it is understood that an Olympic bronze medal may have been lost in Stringfellows nightclub since the Games.
The new document was issued to all governing bodies and officials in Olympic and Paralympic sports on Wednesday, and all procedures have been posted on the UK Sport website, after a consultation process including many figures from British sport, which began on Aug 12.
Under its section on misconduct and bringing either themselves, or their sport into disrepute, athletes have been urged to be cautious using social media platforms, and could have funding removed is their words or actions are “malicious, derogatory or [are used] in ways which tend to offend”.
A UK Sport spokesperson said: “As a result of the consultation that we carried out with key stakeholders and partners ahead of formally introducing our new eligibility policy, a number of respondents requested illustrative examples of actions that could, in theory, lead to ineligibility for UK Sport funding, particularly with regard to the area of misconduct and disrepute.”
UK Sport added that the points were “merely illustrative” to impress upon athletes their place as role models.
The spokesperson added: “If a case were deemed serious enough to be escalated to a sub-committee of the UK Sport Board for consideration then, as the policy outlines, each individual case would be considered in context and by no means would the examples given automatically result in sanctions, such as removal of funding or dismissal from the World Class Performance Programme.”
On Wednesday, Liz Nichol, the chief executive of UK Sport, addressed the Department of Culture Media and Sport, CEOs and the Good and Great of British sportinsisting that the new guidelines on eligibility for sports funding had been “a successful process”.
“As you will all be aware, UK Sport has been working on developing a policy covering the conduct of Athletes and Athlete Support Personnel; their eligibility to receive funding or publicly-funded benefits, and the broader consequences,” wrote Nichol.
The Athletes’ Villages at the Olympic and Paralympic Games are famously renowned for bringing competitors together. A record 150,000 condoms were issued in the Olympic village last summer, 50 per cent up on the previous Games in Beijing.
What stars cannot do
Commit acts or make comments (whether in the media or online such as through tweets, social networking site comments, texts, blogs etc) which...shock or offend the community or which manifest contempt or disregard.
Tell a sexist joke or make a sexist remark at a private meeting, the contents of which are subsequently disclosed.
Attend a lap dancing or strip club, regardless of gender.
Send or distribute obscene or offensive images.