Clean-Sport Movement: Inside World Anti-Doping Agency’s Annual Symposium

Author: Christopher Durso       

World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency monitors illegal performance-enhancing drugs in athletics more than just every four years when the Summer Olympics come around.

Most people only pay attention to the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in athletics every four years, when the Summer Olympics come around. And then there’s the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Headquartered in Montreal, the independent organization is tasked — according to its website — with “bringing consistency to anti-doping policies and regulations within sport organizations and governments across the world.”

That translates into everything from education and research to outreach and enforcement. And, of course, a big meeting — WADA’s Annual Symposium, bringing together international sports federations, athletes, national and regional anti-doping organizations, laboratories, government officials, “and other key stakeholders,” said WADA Communications Coordinator Maggie Durand, “that are integral to the clean-sport movement.”


WADA had a big 2016, including publishing a high-profile report on widespread state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes. That led to a variety of last-minute changes to the symposium program, such as adding a 15-minute “Update on Anti-Doping Activities in Russia” from Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s minister of sport.

“We managed these various challenges successfully and in a cost-efficient manner,” said Benjamin Cohen, director of WADA’s European office and international federation relations, “thanks in particular to the commitment and flexibility of WADA’s staff and our partner Lausanne Tourisme.”


This was the first year that government officials were invited to attend. “The presence of more than 50 governments, with several sports ministers attending in person,” Cohen said, “led to additional challenges in terms of logistics and security.”


During the symposium, WADA heard a proposal from Athlete Committee Chair Beckie Scott — an Olympic-gold cross-country skier from Canada — for a “Charter of Athlete Rights and Responsibilities.” “I’m very excited,” Scott said in a statement, “by the lively conversation and the positive reaction that we received.”

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