WADA has been heartened by the impact of its Outreach during the first week of the Pan American Games in Mexico and is looking forward to continuing its success for the remainder of the program.
It is the third time WADA has had an Outreach presence at the Games, although for the first time in Guadalajara the WADA team includes representatives from Suriname and Panama.
Outreach is a key component in WADA’s fight against doping in sport and already the WADA booth has left a strong impression on many of the 5,000 athletes competing in Mexico.
As is the case at most major multi-sport events, the Outreach booth stationed in the athletes’ dining hall is a hive of activity as competitors seek to gain information from the seven-strong team.
Many are also finding it difficult to resist the ‘Say NO! To Doping Soccer Challenge’, whereby they have three attempts to kick a ball through a hole on the campaign banner.
“Hundreds of athletes visited the booth over the first few days and we’re expecting a full house from now until the end of the program,” said Stacy Spletzer, WADA’s Senior Manager Athlete Relations and Communications.
“As well as the expert advice on the ground, we are for the first time utilizing WADA’s social media to interact with the athletes.
“The Soccer Challenge is proving a hit and those who succeed have their photo posted on Facebook, which is creating some interesting feedback. Being athletes they are unable to resist a challenge.”
Joining Ms. Spletzer in the booth are Isadora Toscana de Britto, Doping Control Services Specialist for Rio 2016, Panama’s National Anti-Doping Agency President Mr. Saul Saucedo Escobar, Clifton Keenswijk of the Suriname Anti-Doping Authority, Jennifer Dodd, Olympic Education Manager at the US Anti-Doping Agency, Edna Serra, Coordinator for WADA’s South American regional office in Uruguay, and Marcela Fontes, a PE teacher from Uruguay.
Having worked at the previous two Pan American Games in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Rio de Janeiro, Ms. Spletzer has noticed the difference Outreach is making.
“With every Pan American Games, and through the growth of the RADO program in the region, athletes are becoming more aware of WADA and have increased knowledge on the issue of anti-doping,” added Ms. Spletzer.
“We are now looking forward to reaching out to the athletes at the Parapan Games next month, where WADA will have an Outreach booth for the first time.”
The Parapan American Games runs from Nov. 12-20.