9 January 2003

WADA and the Australian Youth Olympic Festival

WADA reaches out to young athletes at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.  This event is the first in a series of athlete outreach programs for 2003.

Sydney, Australia (January 9, 2003) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reaches out to young athletes this week at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival with the message to avoid performance-enhancing drugs now and throughout their careers. More than 1500 young athletes, age 14 to 19, from 15 countries are participating in the festival. They are competing in a number of Olympic sports, including athletics, cycling and swimming.

WADA, working with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Anti-Doping Agency, is using an interactive game to help educate athletes about the issue of drugs in sport. The athletes are also required to attend a drug education program administered by the AOC titled "Live Clean, Play Clean". ASDA will administer drug tests during the festival, a first for many of the young athletes participating in these games.

"Educating athletes at an early age about the dangers of doping is the best way to make sure they stay clean throughout their careers", said Susie O'Neill, two-time Olympic gold medal winner in swimming and a member of WADA's Foundation Board, who participated in the festival's drug education program. "WADA's Outreach Program is about reaching all athletes with the message that doping will ruin their careers and their lives. The earlier we can get that message out in an athlete's career, the better."

O'Neill was joined by fellow Olympians from Australia in the drug education program, including Damian Brown, chairman of the AOC Athletes' Commission, and Debbie Watson, Olympic gold medal winner in waterpolo.

WADA's Athlete Outreach Program was created to raise awareness among athletes, officials and coaches regarding prohibited substances and the values of competing free of doping. WADA representatives work directly with the athletes and answer their questions and concerns about doping in sport. The Australian Youth Olympic Festival marks the first of several events in 2003 where WADA will be present through the Outreach program. In late January, WADA will reach out to athletes at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Bled, Slovenia. Later this year, the program will also be present at the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic and at the All-African Games in Nigeria.

Contact Person for the Media:

Frédéric DONZÉ
Manager, Communications
Tel  + 514 904 8820
Fax + 514 904 8764
e-mail : frederic.donze@wada-ama.org