WADA provides support to IPC as it delivers Beijing 2022 Paralympics anti-doping program

paralympic skiier

With support from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)* is set to deliver the most comprehensive anti-doping program in winter Paralympic history for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games that run from 4-13 March 2022.

The event, which got underway today with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium in the Chinese capital, will see some 647 athletes from 48 delegations participating across 78 medal events in six sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

With the aim of providing athletes with the level playing field they deserve, WADA and the IPC have teamed up to offer a number of anti-doping initiatives both in the lead-up to and during the Games. They include a new e-learning course that was specifically geared towards Para athletes (including guides) and coaches preparing for Beijing 2022; WADA’s Independent Observer (IO) program; and an anti-doping plan where athletes can be tested anywhere, anytime for the duration of the Games.

Education: ADEL for Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games

Known as ADEL (Anti-Doping Education and Learning) for Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the e-learning course was jointly developed by WADA and the IPC to educate Para athletes and their support personnel on anti-doping rules, procedures and requirements. Topics covered include how to check medications and apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), how to provide or update whereabouts information, and explanations on athletes’ rights and responsibilities during the testing process. The course also covered information regarding the 2022 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods that came into effect on 1 January 2022.

IPC Anti-Doping Director, James Sclater, said: “The International Paralympic Committee was delighted to partner with WADA again to create an ADEL course for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games. The course that we put in place for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games proved to be very popular with athletes and their support personnel, and this winter version has also been a big hit.

“It is so important that athletes, coaches, doctors and others are aware of their responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code. The Beijing 2022 Paralympics are the pinnacle event in the winter Para sport calendar. It is important that we do everything to prevent inadvertent doping, which could be caused by simply not knowing the rules. This is why we urged all National Paralympic Committees to do their utmost to encourage athletes and their entourage coming to Beijing to complete the course as part of their Games preparation.”

Independent Observers

The IO program is an important element of WADA’s compliance monitoring at major sports events. The IO teams, which are made up of anti-doping experts from all over the world, monitor each phase of the anti-doping system and provide an independent review of all aspects of the program.

Working in partnership with the IPC and local organizers, a five-person IO team is on the ground in Beijing to provide real-time feedback on athlete identification and notification, sample collection, chain of custody, TUEs, results management, and all other areas pertaining to the Code, International Standards and related Technical Documents.

To achieve this, the IO team will review relevant documentation before and during the event, while carrying out daily assessments at the various official locations, including the Paralympic Village and competition venues.

WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, said: “For the past 21 years, WADA IO teams have contributed to protect the integrity of the system at various major events around the world. The teams selected for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games represent a range of anti-doping professionals and athletes, all driven by a sense of fair play and the desire to make sure the athletes can benefit from the best anti-doping program at the Games. In what is an effective mix of disciplines, the teams include experts in the fields of athlete representation, laboratories, medicine, science, testing, anti-doping policy, international relations and legal affairs.

“It is crucially important that all stakeholders – WADA, the IPC, National Paralympic Committees, National Anti-Doping Organizations, government agencies, and others – work in unison to ensure the overall success of the system. And I can confidently say that for Beijing 2022, we are all on the same page as a unified team.”

The IO team for the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games is comprised of:

  • Shafag Huseynli (Azerbaijan), CEO, Azerbaijan National Anti-Doping Agency (Chair) 
  • Ilaria Baudo (Italy), Senior Manager, Testing, WADA (Vice-Chair)
  • Mike Earl (United Kingdom), General Manager, Anti-Doping, World Rugby
  • Sameh Elray (Egypt), Manager, Africa Office, WADA
  • Adriana Escobar (El Salvador), Member of WADA Athlete Committee, International rower

Other Measures

Testing at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games is already under way, having started with the opening of the Village on 25 February. The program will continue until the day of the Closing Ceremony on 13 March.

In total, 756 doping control samples (blood and urine) are expected to be taken during this period, representing a 12 per cent increase from the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, where 677 samples were collected.

Tests will be carried out based on anti-doping intelligence and will include specific high-risk groups of athletes. Samples will be kept by the IPC at a new storage facility for up to 10 years.

* The IPC Anti-Doping Department was established in 2018, making Beijing 2022 the first Winter Paralympics where the IPC will fully manage its own anti-doping program.