WADA’s 18th Annual Symposium kicks off by announcing exceptional results from European Intelligence and Investigations project


Agency celebrates 25th Anniversary 

This week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is hosting its 2024 Annual Symposium in Lausanne, Switzerland, convening almost 1,100 delegates from the global anti-doping community under the theme One Mission – One Team.  

The two-day event kicked off today with keynote addresses by WADA President Witold Bańka and Director General Olivier Niggli. They welcomed delegates to WADA’s 25th Anniversary celebration and highlighted just some of what’s been achieved by the global anti-doping community since WADA was founded in 1999. They then looked at the opportunities of today and the future to strengthen the global anti-doping system in collaboration with stakeholders worldwide.  

WADA President, Witold Bańka, said: “This week, WADA celebrates its 25th Anniversary. It has been a quarter century of progress, of growth and, above all, of collaboration with the global anti-doping community. The Agency’s very origins are the result of a unique partnership between sports and Governments of the world. Remarkably, it is a partnership that has stood the test of time. I am not aware of any other socio-political scenario where this has happened.” 

Carrying on with the theme of collaboration, there was a keynote speech delivered virtually by European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, who spoke to the importance of the Commission’s long-standing partnership with WADA in areas such as education and awareness building; scientific and social science research; and, of course, intelligence and investigations. 

This flowed naturally into one of the most revealing sessions of the week, which was led by WADA Director of Intelligence & Investigations (I&I), Günter Younger.  The session focused on the exceptional results stemming from WADA’s European I&I Capability and Capacity Building Project, which involved collaboration between National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) and law enforcement agencies in 48 European countries focused on reducing the prevalence of doping in sport and maximizing health benefits for young people. 

With more than 60 law enforcement officers from 31 European countries in the room, including several from Europol and INTERPOL, Günter Younger shared the successes of the project, which included: 

  • A total of 67 joint-operations between NADOs and law enforcement agencies, including customs (many still ongoing); 

  • A total of 14 illicit laboratories dismantled through 38 operations completed by the Polish Anti-Doping Agency and Polish police; 

  • More than 14,457 kg of prohibited substances intercepted and seized, representing an estimated 288 million doses of drugs;  

  • Multiple training activities totaling 135 participants, 67 of which were law enforcement and INTERPOL; 

  • Initiation of handheld device project to identify doping substances after seizures;  

  • Development of legal framework guidelines to highlight best practice and support harmonization of I&I in Europe; and 

  • Launch of ‘Natural is Enough’ social media campaign, which generated 13 million impressions;  

Mr. Bańka said: “WADA is thrilled with the results of the European I&I Capability and Capacity Building Project. They speak for themselves. I would like to commend our partners at the European Union and Europol for their support and belief in this project. This amazing initiative has demonstrated what is possible when law enforcement and Anti-Doping Organizations team up to protect clean sport. By combining the power of arrest and seizure of law enforcement agencies with the specific anti-doping knowledge of Anti-Doping Organizations, we have achieved unprecedented results. It is fair to say that the criminal gangs that are trafficking performance-enhancing drugs, and their customers who wish to cheat the system, are feeling the heat. 

“To describe this project as a success would be a massive understatement. The success of the Polish Anti-Doping Agency’s completed operations has set the tone while demonstrating the kind of impact these coordinated efforts can have. The level of collaboration and cooperation between WADA, the Anti-Doping Organizations and law enforcement has been incredible. We look forward to expanding this project into Asia and Oceania in the years to come, and we are confident that this initiative will continue to deter producers and distributors of performance enhancing drugs.” 

To recognize the impact of organizations involved in the EU I&I Project, there was a ceremony that recognized several organizations, including: 

  • Law enforcement agencies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Slovenia for their work in dismantling drug trafficking rings; 

  • The NADO of Greece and Hellenic Police for collaborative excellence; and 

  • The Polish Anti-Doping Agency and Polish Police, which completed 38 successful operations that led to the dismantling of 14 illicit laboratories and multiple tons of PED seizures (some of which were announced in June 2023). 

Mr. Younger said: “The impact and effectiveness of the European I&I Capability and Capacity Building Project cannot be understated. The results are already staggering, and don’t even include dozens of operations that are still ongoing. We look forward to continuing to build on the accomplishments of the project in Europe while also beginning to branch out into other parts of the world. WADA I&I has already begun discussing the next phase with our partners at INTERPOL, Sport Integrity Australia and Drug Free Sport New Zealand in order to bring this successful concept to Asia and Oceania.  We are looking forward to the continued expansion of this impactful project in the years to come.” 

More about the Annual Symposium 

The Annual Symposium brings together anti-doping practitioners from International Federations, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organizations and Major Event Organizations, as well as athletes, Governments, WADA-accredited laboratories, Athlete Passport Management Units, service providers, researchers, and international media. The program includes a total of 15 informative and interactive sessions which cover a wide range of anti-doping topics. 

More about the WADA’s European I&I Capability and Capacity Building Project 

In June 2022, WADA was awarded a grant by the European Commission, to increase anti-doping intelligence and investigation capacity in Europe, reduce the prevalence of doping in sport and maximize the health benefits for European youth practicing clean sport. The project involved 51 Anti-Doping Organizations and 48 law enforcement agencies in Europe. 

More about WADA’s 25th Anniversary Gala 

Later today, WADA will host a 25th Anniversary Gala that will gather Symposium attendees and other invited guests to celebrate the accomplishments of WADA and the global anti-doping community.  

Note to editors: 

Please find below images from the Symposium. These are rights-free for editorial purposes with the appropriate credit (WADA).