WADA highlights the success of its MEAL Program at the 2023 Francophonie Games
As part of its efforts to support Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) globally, members of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Program Development team were on hand during the 2023 Francophonie Games to implement the Agency’s Major Event Anti-Doping Legacy (MEAL) Program. The Games were held from 28 July to 6 August in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The MEAL Program, which is one of WADA’s latest initiatives, focuses on supporting the development of anti-doping programs and resources by Major Events Organizations and other key stakeholders, while promoting clean sport in regions of the world where anti-doping activity is otherwise limited.
Head of Program Development, Francisco León, said: “In a short period of time, the MEAL Program has proven to be effective in furthering the Program Development impact area’s objectives, notably when it comes to working with Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) that can benefit from WADA’s resources and expertise. The MEAL Program is implemented at Major Events with the goal of raising awareness about clean sport, strengthening capabilities and supporting ADOs in developing anti-doping program capacity based on the needs identified, while also making it a priority to leave behind a strong legacy for all ADOs involved.”
Through the MEAL Program, an Anti-Doping Taskforce was constituted to develop, oversee and implement the anti-doping program at the 2023 Francophonie Games. The Taskforce was composed of representatives from the International Committee of the Francophonie Games (CIJF), the National Anti-Doping Committee of Congo (CNAC), the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) and WADA, in an advisory capacity. This model allowed for a continuous and seamless flow of communication between the different stakeholders in order to ensure coordination and collaboration.
Valentin Capelli, Manager, Sport Movement Relations and MEAL Program Leader said: “The MEAL Program continues to grow with each event that we attend, and the impact that it had at the 2023 Francophonie Games was encouraging to see. As part of the activities of the Program, AFLD facilitated a training session during the Games for Sample Collection Personnel. From the participants that attended the session, nine Doping Control Officers (DCOs) were accredited by CNAC and were instrumental in the implementation of the testing program during the Games. In addition to the newly accredited DCOs, the Program also facilitated the presence of two international experienced DCOs from the Central African region to provide additional support to the implementation of the testing program.
“The MEAL Program has proven to have tangible benefits at each event where it has been implemented, and we look forward to it contributing to the future successes of Anti-Doping Organizations around the world.”
As part of WADA’s presence during the Games, a meeting was held with the leadership of CNAC to discuss the way forward for the development and implementation of the national anti-doping program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the Games. It was agreed that the national authorities must capitalize on the anti-doping capacities and capabilities developed during the Games which could be a significant legacy in the hosting of the Games, generally speaking. The WADA Africa Office will continue to support them in this regard.
The MEAL Program also supported the Athlete Engagement booth that was present during the Games, through the production of material as well as the participation of an international expert with relevant experience. The booth was visited by over 250 athletes and entourage from 23 different countries, who had the opportunity to increase their understanding of the mission for doping-free sport.
The Francophonie Games are a combination of international sporting and cultural events that bring together more than 3,000 youth athletes and artists from the 88 states and governments that make up l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
This was the third event where WADA implemented the MEAL Program in 2023. The Program was also rolled out at the Central American and Caribbean Games, which were held in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic from 23 June to 8 July 2023, and at the Pan Arab Games in Algeria from 5 to 15 July.
More about Program Development
Program Development has been part of WADA’s activities since 2004, first through the Agency’s Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) Program, followed by the National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) Program. In mid-2021, we introduced the Program Development Impact Area, which was created with dedicated staff and strategy, and that reaches all ADO groups (NADOs, RADOs, International Federations (IFs) and Major Event Organizations (MEOs)].
For a more in-depth look at the projects that this impact area is currently working on, check out our Spotlight on Program Development.