WADA President updates IOC Session in advance of Beijing Olympic Games
Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) President, Witold Bańka, delivered a speech to the 139th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session, held in Beijing in advance of the Winter Olympic Games. Mr. Bańka updated IOC members on WADA’s activities since the IOC’s last session in July 2021, in particular as they relate to preparation for the Games.
Addressing IOC members, Mr. Bańka’s speech focused on how WADA worked with the anti-doping community worldwide to ensure a return to normal testing levels despite the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
WADA’s President said: “Since my most recent report to the IOC Session held in July 2021, WADA and the global anti-doping community have been working together to maintain the integrity of the system. The response of Anti-Doping Organizations was quick and effective to an evolving situation, with WADA providing guidance at every stage.”
Mr. Bańka told the Session that overall, testing numbers had been maintained at normal levels throughout 2021. In the last quarter of the year, there were more than 24,000 samples collected per month despite restrictions put in place in many parts of the world to deal with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Out-of-competition testing in 2021 has remained at a level significantly greater than for 2019.
Mr. Bańka said that in the build-up to Beijing 2022, WADA urged all Anti-Doping Organizations to make the most of the remaining time to ensure that all athletes bound for the Games were tested and to implement the testing recommendations that they received from the Pre-Games Expert Group being led by the International Testing Agency (ITA). WADA also reminded Anti-Doping Organizations that the IOC-funded pre-Olympic long-term storage program delivered by the ITA remains available to them, at no cost. This excellent initiative allows them to put samples away securely in a long-term storage facility for possible further analysis in the future, which has proven to be an effective strategy to detect doping as science advances.
WADA’s President highlighted the presence in Beijing of a WADA-coordinated Independent Observer team to monitor the anti-doping activities of the Games, and he stressed the hard work that had gone into ensuring that the WADA-accredited laboratory in Beijing was ready for the challenges that awaited. He also highlighted the fact that dried blood spot (DBS) analysis, regarding which elements were trialed during the Tokyo Games last year, was being rolled out for routine use across the testing program for the Beijing Games.
He said: “Dried blood spot is an exciting development for anti-doping. It carries several advantages over traditional forms and will be an important complement to those established methods of sample collection. Collecting just one spot of blood per sample will make things easier for doping control officers. It will be less invasive for athletes, easier to transport and easier to store, with possible additional benefits related to sample stability. WADA has been leading a collaboration of Anti-Doping Organizations, including the IOC, to address all the technical challenges and adapt anti-doping rules to allow for the development of dried blood spot. This partnership builds on research conducted by several Anti-Doping Organizations and laboratories around the world, which I would like to thank.”
Mr. Bańka’s full report to the IOC Session, which was submitted in advance, can be accessed here.