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Industry News: Everything You Need To Know About WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)

Published on: June 30, 2017

Written by: Janet Russell.

Drug addiction sees no limitation when it comes to who will use them. While the government may have focused on the proliferation of these drugs in the streets that affect teens and adults alike, there is one governing body that is responsible for promoting, coordinating and in monitoring the fight against drugs in sports: the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Who is WADA?

The agency is a foundation introduced by the International Olympic Committee in which its primary key activities include:

  • Education
  • Scientific Research
  • Development of Anti-Doping Capacities
  • Monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code

With the support of the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency was created on November 10, 1999 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The WADA headquarters is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Regional offices have also been established in different parts of the world – Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America.

WADA creating the World Anti-Doping Code, which is implemented in more than 600 sports organization which includes the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, international sports federation and national anti-doping organizations. The founding president was Dick Pound (1999–2007).

The current president of WADA who has been the agency’s president since 2014 is Sir Craig Reedie (as of June 2017).

To sustain the agency, funds are being provided by the International Olympic Committee and from various national governments. The agency is composed of representatives from various sports organization and governments of the world.

WADA, being an international agency, distributes work in different countries to ensure that sports organizations from these countries comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.

World Anti-Doping Code

The World Anti-Doping Code is a document that comprises the anti-doping policies, rules and regulations that sports organizations should be able to adhere to. It was created for the purpose of ensuring that anti-doping policies and its standards are the same for all athletes. The WADA Code works hand-in-hand with the five international standards that provides an extended set of guidelines for anti-doping efforts.

The Five International Standards

The standards being used by WADA has been one of the most significant achievements of the said agency as it has well-established a set of principles by which sports organizations should be able to follow.

1. The Prohibited List

This is a compilation of all substances and methods that are prohibited in sports.

2. International Standard for Testing & Investigations

The aim of the International Standard for Testing & Investigation is to be able to strategize an effective testing and to continue the integrity and characteristics of samples. This starts from the time that the athletes have been informed, until the moment of transporting the samples for analysis to accredited laboratories.

3. International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions

The aim of the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions is to allow athletes to use prescribed medication while maintaining a clean level of performance.

4. International Standard for Laboratories

Although there are many laboratories all over the world, not all laboratories adhere to the Code. Therefore, only those accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency can ensure the production of valid test results.

5. International Standard for Protection of Privacy and Personal Information

The aim of the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information is to guarantee all relevant parties that are involved in anti-doping in sport abides by the set of privacy protections when gathering and using athlete personal information.

World Anti-Doping Code Signatory

The World Anti-Doping Code Signatory is an organization that has fully accepted the WADA Code and its accompanying International Standards. These code signatories are:

  • Anti-Doing Coordination
  • Athlete Outreach
  • Code Compliance Monitoring
  • Cooperation of Law Enforcement
  • Education
  • Global Anti-Doping Development
  • Other Initiatives
  • Science and Medicine

Code acceptance signifies that a sports organization agrees to the principles and standards of the Code and agrees to implement its rules and policies, as well as comply with the Code.

European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency

This is a committee of experts responsible for synchronizing all policies created by the World Anti-Doping Agency to the European Cultural Convention. The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected every two years.

Its missions are to:

  • Scrutinize concerns between the Council of Europe, its Member States, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, and to determine a common point, when possible on these concerns;
  • Outline views and ideas for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on these concerns, which includes funding components;
  • Regularly amend the mandate of the World Anti-Doping Agency Foundation Board that is appointed by the European Council.

UNESCO in Partnership with WADA

The coalition between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and WADA is a strong partnership, which commits to do the following:

  • Fight against doping in sports
  • Keep athletes away from doping
  • Encourage athletes to play in a fair ground, and prevent irreparable damage to the credibility of the sport.

UNESCO is deeply affected by the destruction of ethics created by athletes who have been found out to be heavily associated with drugs. UNESCO stands by the principles of equality and justice and has been the world’s vehicle in setting up the ethical limits of both technical and scientific progress.

UNESCO initiated the development of the first global anti-doping legal instrument and has been actively promoting its execution by providing support to various governments in the developmental of anti-doping programs.

UNESCO actively contributes to the continuous development of anti-doping education and prevention programs, which aim at promoting sports values and providing valuable information to young people on the various consequences of doping.

In 2008, UNESCO established the Elimination of Doping in Sport, which involves voluntary financial assistance from the Member States.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by UNESCO and WADA in 2006. The memorandum clearly stated the continuing relationship between the two organizations, and summarizes possible areas of cooperation specifically in the areas of education, monitoring, and capacity-building. Both organizations are very confident with the need to have an honest and drug-free environment for all athletes.

WADA Whereabouts System

The Whereabouts System is vital because it promotes openness and transparency, as well as emphasizing the achievements of athletes who are drug-free. This system is designed to provide support for out-of-competition testing. It is also a widely recognized tool that is essential in an anti-doping program.

Athletes are randomly selected to participate in the National Registered Testing Pool (NRTP). Those athletes who have been nominated to be part of the NRTP will be notified by the National Governing Body. Athletes are required to provide details of their Whereabouts so that they can be located for testing at anytime and anywhere without any advanced notice.

The information that the athletes need to provide is placed in a computer system called Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS). The information should include the following:

60-minute Time Slot Every Day of the Year

The chosen slot should be between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM, and a specified location where the testing can take place. Athletes should be at the exact location on the specified time agreed upon, as the Doping Control Office will arrive at any time.

Schedule of Workouts and Training

A comprehensive list of all scheduled workouts and training should be disclosed.

Competition Schedule

Athletes should provide the date of the competition and include the competition title and location. Should the athlete travel earlier than expected, the athlete must update his Whereabouts and must continue to provide a 60-minute time slot even if it falls on the day of a competition.

Overnight Accommodations

Should an athlete have several residences where he can stay overnight, the complete address of each residence must be provided on his ADAMS profile.

It is therefore extremely important that the email address and phone number of athletes are up-to-date so that he may be able to receive notifications or reminders. Not being able to do this would mean having to face sanctions after a Whereabouts violation.

The WADA sees this system as an integral part of keeping the sports community drug-free. However, some controversies arose, saying that the Whereabouts System are violating human rights.

Doping Cases in Sports

Despite WADA’s strict guidelines against athlete’s association with drugs, a lot of athletes have been caught to be doping while they are actively involved with their sports. The reasons why athletes were included in the list is due to:

  • Use of performance-enhancing drugs
  • Use of prohibited recreational drugs
  • Failure to submit to mandatory testing

One of the controversial athletes linked to doping was Lance Armstrong, who admitted to doping in January 2013 through an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Years prior to the admission, Lance has been tested positive for corticoid during the 1999 Tour de France. However, he clarified that the presence of the said drug was an ingredient in a topical medication he used for treating his skin allergy.

His confession to Oprah came as a great shock to all his followers, but most especially to the world of sports. He was one of the well-loved athletes because of his charm and great performance, but his admission essentially became the end of his career.

He has been linked to other doping incidents but was always cleared out. Apart from not being able to join any cycling competition, the UCI Management Committee declared its decision not to change the results of all the races in which Lance Armstrong has been part of from the year 1998 to 2005. However, WADA denounces UCI’s appeal to USADA’s decision on Lance Armstrong. All of Armstrong’s victories were stripped from him due to his doping activity.

It is because of these incidents that strict regulations should be implemented by sports organization to ensure that all athletes adhere to the guidelines imposed to them. Additionally, the importance of sports drug testing should be perceived as an essential part in keeping athletes clean and at the same time can be able to play on fairground.

Technology Doping

Technology doping refers to the practice of gaining a competitive advantage by using sports equipment. WADA prohibits athletes from using any of these technologies as it tampers the spirit of the sport.

Examples of technology doping equipment are the following:

  • Ionized shirts: It claims that the negative ions in the shirt help increase blood flow. Therefore, it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles and can remove lactic acid quickly from the body.
  • Artificial limbs
  • Mechanical doping: This is commonly associated with cyclists as it is a secret motor that helps propel the bicycle. It has been banned by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
  • Interactive materials: The materials help to correct the performance of the athletes, thereby helping the athletes gain muscle memory to help them to continue to perform better until the material is taken away.
  • LZR Racer Swimsuit: This is probably the most controversial of all. It was created by Speedo, made from a material that was designed to imitate the skin of a shark. The swimsuit allows better oxygen flow to the muscles and has the ability to hold the body in a more hydrodynamic position, thereby trapping the air to increase buoyancy.
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