26 May 2014

WADA launches ALPHA: A Fresh Approach to Anti-Doping eLearning for Athletes

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched ALPHA, an Athlete Learning Program about Health & Anti-Doping.

ALPHA is a program that adopts a fresh approach to anti-doping education by addressing how an athlete’s attitudes shape his or her intentions, and ultimately determine doping or anti-doping behaviors.

As WADA’s Rob Koehler, Director, Education & Program Development explains, the program aims to substitute the traditional, directive approach to tackling doping with a more positive outlook.

“Instead of telling athletes ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that,’ which can come across as negative and daunting, ALPHA provides athletes with solutions,” says Koehler,. “We want athletes to understand that a number of options and actions are available to them. None involve doping and all take into consideration an athlete’s need to perform and succeed.’”

In development for nearly two years, ALPHA brought together leading psychologists, behavioral scientists, education technologists, eLearning specialists, prevention specialists, as well as video testimonials from WADA’s Athlete Committee members. Athlete focus groups also contributed to the team approach, as athlete feedback was cited as central to ALPHA’s continual improvement and enhancement.

ALPHA was designed to be a state-of-the-art resource that Anti-Doping Organizations can easily implement and sustain. The program is available in English, with French and Spanish versions to follow later this year. Stakeholder demand will determine the need for additional languages to follow.

ALPHA consists of eight sessions and takes two hours to complete. Athletes are encouraged to take the course in several stages.

A score of 80% or higher is required for ALPHA certification, though athletes with insufficient scores are able to repeat the program.

ALPHA’s first six sessions address the World Anti-Doping Code requirement for athletes to be educated on the following: Doping Control, Whereabouts, Therapeutic Use Exemptions and Results Management processes, and medical and ethical reasons not to dope. Sessions seven and eight offer practical help on how to stay clean and how to resist the pressure to dope.

The program includes video testimonials from elite athletes in order to provide a point of reference, particularly on the role of patience and failure in sporting life.

Furthermore, ALPHA also recognizes the relation of legitimacy to athlete acceptance. As WADA’s Manager, Education Léa Cléret explains. “Once athletes believe a process is legitimate, they are more likely to accept it. Present the rationale behind the multiple processes involved in doping control, and athletes immediately make the connection.”