Ethics in sport - the view from sportscotland

Shaking hands is not enough

15 August 2006

Shaking hands is not enough

As the national body for sport in Scotland, we place great importance on the value of sport and its impact. Whether played recreationally or to win medals, sport can and does have a profound effect on people’s lives. So it’s vital that anyone involved, whether as a participant, coach, volunteer, official, administrator or supporter, ensures that sport is fun and fair for all. This is where ethics becomes significant. It’s not just about shaking someone’s hand at the end of the game: it’s about applying moral rules, principles, values and norms. Put simply, to take part in sport with consideration for fairness, integrity, respect and equity.

At sportscotland, we actively support ethical participation through a wide range of policies and programmes. Our work addresses issues ranging from fair play, disability inclusion and sports rehabilitation to race equity, data protection and human rights. We offer guidance and advice on all aspects of ethics, and provide hands-on support to our partners, particularly in the areas of equity, child protection, anti-doping and corporate governance. This article gives brief insight into each of these key areas – more details can be found on our website, or by contacting our ethics staff.

Equity – promoting diversity and inclusion

Equity in sport is about making sure that everyone has a chance to take part in sport if they wish to do so, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, disability, faith and religion, sexual orientation, age or social background. It’s not necessarily about treating everyone the same – it’s about fairness, justice, inclusion and respect. sportscotland is absolutely committed to supporting and achieving equity and diversity in sport. To achieve this goal, we are currently championing the implementation of the Equity Standard: A Framework for Sport, throughout Scottish sport, whilst simultaneously implementing our own Equity Strategy: Working towards diversity and inclusion in sport.

The Equity Standard provides a framework to help sports organisations mainstream equity throughout their actions. It was developed by UK Sport and the four home country sports councils in 2004. Currently being piloted by 12 of Scotland’s governing bodies of sport, it will later be rolled out throughout Scottish sport.

Prompted by the launch of the Equity Standard, we set out how we, as an organisation, will implement the Standard in our own Equity Strategy, bringing together all the different areas of equity into one cohesive approach. As our chair, Julia Bracewell, commented on its launch;
 “each of us involved in sport has a responsibility to ensure that equity applies to every aspect of Scottish sport as a matter of course. sportscotland is committed to leading the way

We intend to lead by example, and achieve Foundation level of the Standard this summer. And we’re committed to developing a package of support to help sporting organisations following the same process.

Child protection

Sport can and should be an enjoyable and enriching experience for children. However, this is only possible if it’s delivered in a safe and supportive environment. sportscotland fundamentally believes that child protection is everyone’s responsibility and works closely with Children 1st to support sporting organisations in this area.

Key to this has been the development of model child protection policy and procedures, available for use by national governing bodies and other sporting organisations. These have recently been updated to take account of The Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 and to take account of feedback from governing bodies who’ve made use of the guidelines, ensuring they are up-to-date and user friendly. The updated guidelines will shortly be available on the Child Protection in Sport website.

sportscotland and Children 1st also sit on the Child Protection in Sport Steering Group in partnership with representatives from key areas such as the police, governing bodies, and the Scottish Executive. This group is currently formulating a Commitment to child protection which it is hoped all sports organisations will sign up to and then deliver through their own action plans.


Put simply, taking drugs to enhance performance in sport is cheating. UK Sport is the driving force behind anti-doping in sport; they undertake testing, develop policy and deliver the 100% Me anti doping education programme. In May 2005,  the UK National Anti-Doping Policy and Model Rules were published. Each sport must now have a policy and rules in place that align with these and which comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. sportscotland has a key role in supporting UK Sport to deliver the anti doping programme in Scotland, working closely with them to support SGBs in developing policies and rules.

sportscotland and UK Sport have also developed a pool of 100% Me trainers who can now deliver anti doping education sessions to athletes and sporting organisations in Scotland.

Corporate Governance

Our final key area of focus is corporate governance – that is, the way an organisation is directed and controlled. All sports organisations have a responsibility to govern responsibly and effectively, and sportscotland works with them to ensure their corporate governance is fit for purpose. We do this by providing support to ensure that areas such as recruitment, discipline, constitutions and health and safety comply with relevant legislation and reflect good practice.

Ethics in sport is a shared responsibility and one that we are absolutely committed to; the changes necessary to make ethical practice in sport a reality are not always easy, but they are vital and will benefit everyone involved in sport.

For more information or advice on any ethics in sport issue, talk to one of our team or visit one of the websites listed below.

Jill Bennett, Ethics Manager T. 0131 472 3317
Jessica Lindohf, Woman, Girls and Sport Officer, T. 0131 472 3249
Emma O’Callaghan, Development Manager: Disability Sport T. 0131 472 3555
Calum Wood, Partnership Manager – lead on anti-doping T. 0131 472 3277
Heather Lowden, Lead Manager – lead on child protection T. 0131 472 3259

Useful websites

For an overview of sportscotland’s stance on ethics and to access a number of related publications, visit

To learn more about ensuring children stay safe whilst enjoying sport, visit

For an up to date overview on anti-doping and how it affects Scotland’s athletes, visit