Intended for healthcare professionals


A new professional code in sports medicine

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4931
  1. Simona Giordano, reader in bioethics
  1. 1University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
  1. simona.giordano{at}

    Provides ethical and legal guidance for sports and exercise medicine practitioners

    In July 2010 the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) published a professional code.1 The code supplements the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice guidance with additional guidance specifically for sports and exercise medicine practitioners.

    The publication of the code could not be more timely, as it follows yet another scandal involving elite athletes: the so-called Bloodgate affair in rugby union, where a player was persuaded to fake a blood injury, and aided by the coach, a physiotherapist, and doctor to this purpose.2 This is not an isolated incident. In the Summer Paralympics in Sydney in 2000, for example, 10 of the 12 athletes of the gold medal-winning Spanish basketball team faked disability.3

    Although doctors are not the only corruptible professionals, a doctor implicated in this way not only contributes to the erosion of credibility of sports, but can also expose sportsmen and women to avoidable health risks, thus contravening one of the primary imperatives of medicine: first do no harm.

    The code contains a number of important ethicolegal clarifications relating to the role, rights, and responsibilities of sports physicians (those most relevant to sports and exercise medicine are …

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