Athlete Engagement

Ben Sandford

Athlete engagement starts with listening.

Encouraging open exchange of ideas and opinions strengthens WADA’s ability to effectively address athletes’ needs and fulfill our commitment to protect clean sport. Finding new avenues to build bridges and create dialogue with athletes around the diverse views of the international athlete community is a priority. There are many voices and perspectives, which all have value.  We strive to listen and learn from these views so that our programs better reflect the needs of athletes and to ensure greater legitimacy.

We view athlete engagement in two ways – how we are engaging athletes in the development of our policies and programs and how we are, in turn, listening to, supporting, empowering and educating athletes.

When WADA developed its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, the focus was on ensuring that this ‘new era’ of anti-doping was athlete-centered. For us this meant that we –

  • Engage and empower you to contribute to the development of anti-doping policies by ensuring that athletes are involved with everything that we do
  • Create an easier anti-doping journey for you by developing apps, resources and systems that support your commitment to clean sport
  • Increase the impact that our programs deliver for you and your entourage so that you can maintain a healthy and sustainable career in sport and have confidence that your competitors are held to the same standard and have the same support.

Our relationship with athletes will always be a work in progress – WADA is a regulator rather than an anti-doping agency, but we will continue to look for new and better ways to engage you directly in partnership with the anti-doping community such as your National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) and International Sport Federation (IF). Here are some of the significant advances we have made most recently:

  • Increased communication and consultation with athletes in conjunction with our WADA Athlete Committee
  • Ensure athletes are contributing to policy – This includes involvement in the drafting of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, integration of athletes into all of WADA’s expert standing committees, and inclusion in a number of ongoing working groups and programs.
  • Inclusion of athletes in all of WADA’s Independent Observer and Outreach activities at major sporting events world-wide
  • Athlete education – such as the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics and Paralympics courses and other ADEL e-learning courses
  • In partnership with the WADA Athlete Committee, efforts to develop a Global Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds have made significant strides to provide athletes a cost-free, impartial and expert resource to navigate any challenges they may encounter within anti-doping
  • Significant inclusion in WADA’s ongoing governance reforms with particular emphasis on ensuring that there are athlete voices within key decision making bodies

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