In recent years, doping scandals have damaged the reputation of sport. In Athletics for example, distance running coach, Alberto Salazar, was recently banned from the sport for four years after being found guilty of doping violations (including the administration of a prohibited method to multiple track and field athletes). Whilst Salazar maintains his innocence and is appealing the decision, the sport’s reputation has undoubtedly been damaged, along with the reputation (rightly or wrongly) of those athletes associated with Salazar.
In a bid to tackle doping in sport and "protect athletes and the integrity of sport", the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last week published a new five-year plan under the theme "Leading Anti-Doping in a New Era". The plan focuses on the following key priorities:
- Lead: Lead by example by taking bold steps to proactively tackle emerging issues with agility and innovative solutions across all facets of anti-doping.
- Grow Impact: Expand the reach and impact of anti-doping programs by enhancing capacity building and knowledge sharing between Anti-Doping Organizations and empowering local program delivery.
- Be Athlete-Centred: Engage and empower athletes to contribute to the development of anti-doping policies, build an easier anti-doping journey for athletes, and increase the contribution that WADA’s programs deliver for athletes and their entourage so that they can build healthy and sustainable careers in sport.
- Collaborate and Unite: Engage and collaborate with everyone involved in anti-doping, in particular with the sports movement and public authorities, to increase support, unity and coherence in everyone’s efforts.
- Be Visible: Raise awareness and shape a proactive narrative that will demonstrate the positive impact of doping-free sport and WADA’s role.
- Perform: Provide greater value to our stakeholders by reducing operational complexities and maximizing impact and cost-effectiveness.
In light of the impact a doping scandal can have on sport, WADA’s new plan is likely to be welcomed by athletes, clubs and sporting bodies, particularly as it aims to make the anti-doping journey easier and clearer for all involved.
...there is consensus that WADA must go further to build bridges and unite efforts to protect athletes and the integrity of sports globally.