18 June 2019

WADA announces its Independent Observer and Athlete Outreach programs for the European Games 2019

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is pleased to outline its planned Independent Observer (IO) and Athlete Outreach (AO) programs for the 2nd European Games taking place in Minsk, Belarus, from 21-30 June 2019. 

The IO and AO teams (listed below) will be present throughout the Games and, respectively, will provide real-time expert advice to organizers on all matters relating to the doping control program in place; and, will give athletes the opportunity to learn more about anti-doping and how the global program works to protect clean sport.

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said: “The European Games is an important event on the sporting calendar with 4,000 athletes from 50 European nations competing in 23 disciplines within 15 sports. From WADA’s perspective, it is especially important for our experienced team of observers to be present as 10 of these sports will offer qualification opportunities for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“A dynamic WADA AO team will also be on hand to provide an opportunity for all competitors to engage with anti-doping in an informal and fun environment. WADA’s Outreach Program raises anti-doping awareness with the world’s athletes and their support personnel, reminding them of clean sport values and asking them to reflect on all the reasons why they choose to play true.”

WADA’s IO team, which is led by Hamish Coffey from UK Anti-Doping and is composed of international experts in anti-doping, is intended to instill confidence in athletes and other stakeholders as to the quality, effectiveness and reliability of anti-doping programs being carried out at major events around the world.

The IO team will observe all aspects of the European Games’ anti-doping program, including:

  • Test distribution planning
  • Selection of competitors for testing
  • Notification of doping control
  • Sample collection procedures
  • Therapeutic Use Exemption procedures
  • Results management

The team will provide daily feedback to the European Olympic Committee (EOC) as well as the Minsk 2019 Organizing Committee. The team will then issue a post-event report that will include a series of observations and recommendations designed to enhance anti-doping activities at future European Games.

WADA’s AO team, which will be staffed by anti-doping experts from across Europe, will be visible and active in the athletes’ village during the Games. The aim is to build awareness among athletes, support personnel and others as to the dangers and consequences of doping and as it relates to athletes’ rights and responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code.

Visitors will be encouraged to complete the Play True Quiz, which is now available in 43 languages, to sign a pledge explaining why they Play True, and to share their experience on social media using the hashtag #PlayTrue.

Beyond WADA’s IO and AO activities during the Games, in connection with the mandate of WADA’s Prevalence Working Group, WADA and the EOC signed a letter of intention to carry out a pilot study during the Games. Specifically, the study seeks to validate a survey method among athletes during the Games with the objective of developing a tool or set of tools to estimate the prevalence of doping in sports and countries; and, to enable measurement of the impact of anti-doping policies and actions on the prevalence of doping over time.


The IO Team

  • Hamish Coffey (Chair), UK Anti-Doping
  • Olivier Banuls (Team Member), Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation
  • Shafag Huseynli (Team Member), Azerbaijan National Anti-Doping Agency
  • Florence Lefebvre-Rangeon (Team Manager), WADA European Office

The AO Team

  • Janis Hahelis, Anti-Doping Bureau of Latvia
  • Justin Lessard, Union Cycliste Internationale
  • Lilla Sagi, International Weightlifting Federation
  • Lucienne Attard, Anti-Doping Commission of Malta
  • Stacy Spletzer-Jegen (Team Manager), WADA