TALKS are to start with ministers over making a Scottish university a UK centre for anti-doping research.

The move began after Stirling MP Steven Paterson raised the issue of doping in sport at Westminster, calling for further resources to be committed and increased transparency in anti-doping effort.

It comes a matter of weeks after the Rio de Janeiro laboratory responsible for processing all athletes' drug test samples at the summer Olympics, due to open on August 5, has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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WADA said the lab was shut down due to "non-conformity with the International Standard for Laboratories" and is prohibited from "carrying out all anti-doping analyses on urine and blood samples."

Mr Paterson has received a positive response from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Tracey Crouch, to the suggestion that a centre for anti-doping research could be established at Stirling University given what he saw as the expertise in the field to be found there.

Stirling researchers are currently undertaking four WADA-commissioned projects examining drug use in sport, to help shape global anti-doping programmes and make them more relevant and effective.

One project involves exploring athletes’ attitudes on the fairness of current anti-doping programmes and how they believe they affect their success.

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Mr Paterson has told Ms Crouch: “Given the expertise of sports researchers and experienced athletes associated with the University, I think there an opportunity to create a leading centre for anti-doping research and education here in the UK, and specifically where the expertise already is at Stirling.

“I hope this is something the minster would be able to consider, and perhaps meet with me and representatives of the university in due course to discuss the idea in more detail.”

He added: “The issue of doping in sport is a huge challenge facing the international sporting community in this Olympic year, with the uncovering of a widespread and systemic doping operation in Russian athletics that has seen the team banned from the Olympics and the possibility that many other countries face similar bans.

“Researchers at Stirling University have been working on these issues for over 12 years, and have developed considerable expertise that can be used to monitor and enhance efforts to enforce the highest standards in anti-doping efforts".

Ms Crouch has has agreed to a meeting with representatives of the university and has told Mr Paterson that he was "right to speak about the work of the University of Stirling with such pride".

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In April, leading anti-doping researcher Dr Paul Dimeo of the university's faculty of health sciences and sport was appointed chairman of the USA Cycling Anti-Doping Committee. He will head up one of two new advisory boards, set up to support USA Cycling in its efforts to increase safety and ensure clean competition in American bike racing in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.

Mr Paterson added: “I am pleased that the Minster looked positively on the initiative suggested by Stirling University, and that she was willing to meet with experts from the university in due course to discuss how we can continue to pursue rigorous anti-doping efforts to the maximum possible effect in future."

A university spokesman said: "Stirling is Scotland’s university for sporting excellence and researchers at the university have been examining drug use in sport for over 12 years and have been working with the World Anti-Doping Agency to shape global anti-doping programmes.

"Given the expertise of sport researchers in this field and experienced athletes associated with the university, the faculty of health sciences and sport is in the very early stages of exploring the opportunity to create a leading centre for anti-doping research and education at Stirling and is in talks with potential collaborators.”