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Feature Profile

Richard Budgett: Olympic challenge

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 02 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2904
  1. Rebecca Coombes, associate editor, BMJ
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
  1. rcoombes{at}

    The thousands of athletes descending on London in 2012 will need health care as well as sporting facilities. Rebecca Coombes talks to Richard Budgett, the man in charge of providing it, about the public health legacy, anti-doping measures, and McDonalds sponsorship

    Richard Budgett is masterminding the medical arrangements for the next Olympic Games from the London 2012 headquarters, on the 23rd floor of a skyscraper in Canary Wharf. From here 2012 is not such a distant prospect; the Olympic stadium and aquatic centre can be easily picked out two miles east across the horizon in Stratford.

    Budgett, the chief medical officer of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is a veteran of these events; London will be his 12th. He won a gold medal for rowing in the 1984 Los Angeles games, alongside Steve Redgrave, and has attended many games as a doctor, mostly as chief medical officer for the Great Britain team.

    He has the ambition you’d expect from a former elite athlete. He wants these games to be the “cleanest ever,” with arrangements in place to collect about 5000 samples for drug testing—a record number for the Olympics. He also pushes the notoriously hard message that the games are not just about the exercise physiology of elite athletes but the importance of exercise for all.

    The immediate practical challenge for Budgett is the giant task of bringing temporary health care to 17 000 people living in the athletes’ village. The “jewel in the crown,” says Budgett, is the polyclinic, a 460 m2 facility on the eastern edge of the village that is due to begin construction late this year. It will house sports medicine facilities, physiotherapy, chiropractic services, osteopathy, dentistry, imaging services, a pharmacy, a hydrotherapy unit, a small accident and emergency unit, and general practice surgeries. …

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