WADA engages athletes from around the world as part of the IOC’s 10th International Athlete Forum

Upon invitation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and WADA’s Athlete Committee played an active role in the 10th International Athlete Forum (IAF), which was held virtually on 26-27 May 2021, gathering 2,000 athletes from around the world.

Members of WADA’s Athlete Committee managed five continental break-out sessions in the lead-up to the IAF on 21-22 May; during which, they gathered feedback and ideas from fellow athletes that will be used to inform the Committee of various athlete views and perspectives on anti-doping. The Committee members also delivered two additional anti-doping sessions, led by Committee Chair Ben Sandford, who updated athletes on WADA’s activities as well as some of the key initiatives being carried out by the Committee.

WADA Athlete Committee Chair, Ben Sandford, said: “The International Athlete Forum was a unique opportunity to engage with thousands of athletes from around the world, to respond to their questions, and listen to their thoughts and ideas on how to improve the global anti-doping system. There were many constructive discussions which highlighted the need for more awareness building and education around anti-doping; as well as, the importance of making this information easier to understand and digest.

“On behalf of WADA’s Athlete Committee, I would like to thank the IOC and the IOC’s Athlete Commission for delivering this Forum despite the challenges of the ongoing global pandemic. Now more than ever, it is important to engage athletes, and we greatly appreciate the massive platform to discuss anti-doping.”

The Forum also included a ‘marketplace’ where WADA had a virtual booth; whereby, visitors were welcomed by an avatar of WADA President and former international level athlete, Witold Bańka. The booth provided athletes with up-to-date anti-doping information regarding WADA’s COVID-19 Q&A and access to additional resources on WADA’s Anti-Doping Education and Learning Platform (ADEL).

WADA President Witold Bańka said: “WADA was pleased to once again join the IOC’s International Athlete Forum, which is a great opportunity to shine the light on the importance of anti-doping and ‘Playing True’. We believe that opportunities such as these, where athletes come together and discuss key issues, are very important to the progress of the global anti-doping system. Athlete engagement is a priority for WADA. We are committed to listening, learning and leveraging the contributions of the athlete community to advance our mission for doping free sport.”

The IAF is held every two years, bringing together a network of athlete representatives to discuss key topics. The program blends panel discussions, Q&A sessions and interactive workshops to empower the global athlete community.