WADA Symposium focuses on ‘Raising the Game’ for athletes worldwide
On 11-12 June, the World Anti-Doping Agency convened its 2022 Annual Symposium in Lausanne, Switzerland, which brought together nearly 600 delegates in person and more than 200 virtually from the global anti-doping community. This year’s theme focused on how the anti-doping community could Raise the Game for athletes worldwide.
This 16th Annual Symposium, which was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gathered Athletes, International Sports Federations, Government representatives, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organizations, Major Event Organizers, WADA-accredited laboratories and Athlete Passport Management Units, as well as international media and other stakeholders.
The event opened with a keynote address by WADA President Witold Bańka and a presentation by Director General Olivier Niggli that were followed by 24 interactive sessions delivered by anti-doping stakeholders in close collaboration with WADA representatives.
The WADA President set the tone by expressing gratitude for being able to gather again and commending the global anti-doping community for working together to maintain the anti-doping system during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also reflected on ways that WADA and the community are ‘Raising the Game’ together for the benefit of athletes worldwide.
Mr. Bańka said: “Anti-doping is all about collaboration, solidarity and partnership. With the commitment and dedication of every stakeholder group, the anti-doping community is achieving its mission. Looking ahead, we have so many exciting opportunities and challenges that we face. How do we further harmonize the system in an imperfect world? How are we going to ensure everyone within anti-doping is held accountable for their performance, just as the athletes are? How are we going to push forward with innovation, with education, and with research to further protect clean sport?
“We can all lead by example, taking bold steps to tackle the issues with agility and innovation. We can expand the reach and impact of anti-doping programs by enhancing capacity-building and knowledge-sharing across the world. We can engage and collaborate with each other to increase support, unity and understanding. We can raise awareness and shape a clear message that clean sport is the only sport we will accept and celebrate.
“And all the time we must engage and empower athletes so their anti-doping journey is easier, so they are part of the decision-making process, and so they can build healthy and sustainable careers in sport. This is how they will inspire the next generation of athletes to do the same. The WADA Annual Symposium is a way for everyone who cares about clean sport to come together to discuss these issues and more.”
Mr. Bańka shared a video revealing WADA’s new athlete-focused Play True campaign, which celebrates athletes and, in particular, the family, coaches and others who instill in them the values of clean sport, asking “Who inspires you to Play True?” Over the coming months, the campaign will be brought to life through digital channels, via WADA’s athlete engagement activities at major events and through other means.
Who inspires you to Play True?
WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, then took delegates through the governance reform journey that WADA commenced in 2016, which culminated with important reforms that were approved by WADA’s Foundation Board in May 2022. Mr. Niggli also focused on what had been achieved by WADA and the anti-doping community in recent years, as well as on WADA’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.
The WADA Director General said: “The anti-doping landscape continues to evolve – as does WADA and the anti-doping community. The Agency is much better equipped today. It is more structured and more robust and will be even more so due to the governance reforms that will implemented along with the Strategic Plan. We are committed to engaging and empowering athletes, building anti-doping capacity and community worldwide, and securing additional funding to further enable doping-free sport. The anti-doping system still needs to be strengthened and this will require the full attention of all of us. We look forward to working in close partnership with you all to carry out our ambitious plans. We are confident that with ingenuity and unity, we will generate fresh and innovative ideas and succeed in ‘Raising the Game’.”
In wrapping up the Symposium, WADA surveyed participants on what the global anti-doping community should focus on more to ‘Raise the Game’. While the feedback was varied, innovation, education, athlete engagement, collaboration, research and greater resourcing stood out.
On Monday, the WADA Athlete Committee will host a half-day information-sharing session bringing together athletes and athlete representatives from around the world with the aim of engaging and sharing information with them and listening to their points of view.
Please find below images from both days of the Symposium. These are rights-free for editorial purposes with the appropriate credit (WADA).