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Love Island ‘not a sport yet’, ministers told in performance-enhancing drugs debate

Love Island contestants are renowned for their muscular physique. Photo: Love Island

Love Island should be made to ensure its contestants’ “honed, buffed young bodies” are down to a healthy lifestyle and not drugs, ministers have been told.

The Government was urged to pressure the smash hit ITV2 reality show as concerns were raised over the use of image and performance-enhancing drugs (IPEDs) in junior and amateur sport.

In response, sport minister Lord Ashton of Hyde said Love Island was not classed as a sport “yet”, but agreed the need to educate young people about the impact of using such substances.

Wes Nelson, like many of the Love Island contestants, has a muscular physique. Credit: Love Island

The issue was raised by vice-president of the UK Sports Association Lord Addington.

The Liberal Democrat peer said: “Will the Government put pressure on certain TV programmes like the all-pervading Love Island, where lots of honed, buffed young bodies are shown to the general public, and make sure these are all down to hard work and diet and not drugs?”

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Prompting laughter, Lord Ashton said: “I don’t think Love Island has been officially classified as a sport yet.”

But he added: “Image and performance-enhancing drugs are a problem.

“One of the things that UK Anti-Doping and the Government and sports governing bodies have to do is educate young people from a very early age in the effects of these drugs, and to explain and inculcate a values-based system so that healthy nutrition, exercise and sleep – healthy training – is the most important thing and not drugs.”

A typical job for a Love Island contestant may be, as a with Adam Collard, a personal trainer. Credit: Love Island

Love Island, which is ITV2's most viewed programme, has regularly been criticised by campaigners who say it promotes a negative attitude towards bodies that do not fit the show's status quo.

At the start of July, the head of NHS England criticised the show for allowing breast enlargement adverts to air in the break.

Simon Stevens said the ads put pressure on young people over their body image and urged broadcasters to look “very carefully at the kinds of impacts that it is having”.