WADA plays important role in China Anti-Doping Agency’s International Anti-Doping Symposium

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was pleased to play an important role during the 2nd annual International Anti-Doping Symposium, which was hosted in a hybrid fashion on 25-26 August 2022, by the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA).

Commissioned and supported by CHINADA and co-organized by the anti-doping branch of the China Sport Science Society, the event is a welcome addition to the clean sport calendar, especially within the Asia/Oceania region. Under the theme ‘Science and Technology: Innovate to Raise the Game for Clean Sport’, this year’s event attracted nearly 1,200 participants from the region and beyond, and its agenda focused on how scientific and technological research and advancement is strengthening the protection of clean sport around the world.

In his opening address, WADA President, Witold Bańka thanked CHINADA for running this important symposium, saying it was a great opportunity to listen to one another, strengthen existing connections and make new ones. He focused on the importance of forging and maintaining partnerships in the pursuit of clean sport.

President Bańka said: “For everyone involved in anti-doping, collaboration and cooperation is absolutely essential. For China and the rest of the Asia region to play a role in strengthening the global anti-doping movement, Governments, sports federations, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organizations, and WADA must all work together. Ultimately, it is our mutual objective to raise the game and empower athletes. We must give them the tools they need to compete clean, and therefore Play True, throughout their careers. The solutions are found not by working alone but by joining forces… by collaborating. No single body can do it on its own. It requires cooperation from all concerned. This is this same philosophy that led to WADA’s creation 23 years ago, and it remains true today. If we work together as one, we can achieve anything.”

Speaking to the theme of the Symposium, Mr. Bańka said: “Science, technology and innovation are central to WADA’s mission as we look forward to the future of anti-doping. It is imperative that we keep pushing the boundaries of scientific and technological advancement. For me, the key aspect is research. Thanks to an increase of WADA’s budget for 2023-2025, approved by our Foundation Board in May of this year, we have committed to investing US$4.8 million in 2024 and US$6.6 million in 2025 into scientific research.”

Later on day one of the Symposium, WADA Vice-President Yang Yang delivered a keynote speech focusing on WADA’s achievements in the areas of science and technology while also outlining some of the remaining challenges being faced by the Agency. She pointed to the fact that for more than two decades, WADA has led a global collaboration in the area of science and medicine with responsibility in the fields of anti-doping laboratory accreditation, scientific research, the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, the Athlete Biological Passport, and Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

She said: “The fruits of these healthy collaborations are there for all to see. For example, the China Anti-Doping Agency, along with a number of other key partners, has formed a pivotal part of the consortium that developed and implemented the innovative new testing method, dried blood spot analysis. This method has the potential to be a game-changer and a valuable complement to traditional testing. Another area of development for WADA is artificial intelligence. Our collaborations are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge in this important area. Indeed, the promising results we have seen for how artificial intelligence research can be used to advance anti-doping are very encouraging, especially as it relates to the interpretation of ‘big data’. I think that AI still has much to deliver in the coming years – this is very exciting for us.

“As well as science, the area of technology is so important for us. In all aspects of modern life, this is a fast-changing area and anti-doping is no exception. WADA is striving day by day to advance clean sport through technological improvements. Most of what is being done is designed either to improve the experience for athletes and other stakeholders, to make the process more accurate or to tighten security.

“The areas of science and technology are constantly changing and moving forward. All of us must be ready to move with the times and make sure we stay ahead of the game. There is so much left to do. It is a huge challenge that awaits us. And it is an exciting one. The passion, dedication and expertise of thousands of people who are now tackling these issues will yield great results in the not-too-distant future. Pooling our resources and working in tandem with each other is yielding results.