World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Bańka has urged National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) to embrace education as part of their overall strategies for keeping sport clean at the opening of the WADA Global Education Conference (GEC) in Sydney.
More than 300 participants – including anti-doping practitioners and researchers – have flocked to the event in Australia to share trends, advance education programmes and explore how NADOs can further research initiatives while keeping athlete support at the heart of their blueprint.
Maintaining this theme, Bańka highlighted how education was vital to WADA’s modern-day strategy to protect clean athletes.
“Education is the single best way to prevent doping in sport,” Bańka said.
“Yes, anti-doping is there to ‘catch and punish’ but it is also very important that we ‘support and prevent’, too.
“WADA has fully embraced education and it is time that all anti-doping organisations and Governments of the world do the same, just as they are doing here in Australia.”
He continued: “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.
“Education is the key to this.
“It is time to put it front and centre and take it as seriously as we take other key areas of anti-doping, like science, medicine and the law.
“WADA has done this and so has Australia – I am calling on all anti-doping organisations to do the same.
“Athletes all over the world deserve nothing less.”
Anika Wells, Australia’s Sports Minister, was one of the speakers at the opening of this year’s GEC.
Wells reiterated the Polish official’s call to NADOs, stressing they all have room to expand their knowledge.
“Beyond success in elite competition, Aussies believe passionately that sport should be fair,” Wells said in a video message.
“I am delighted that the conversations have shifted beyond just access to education.
“I know this education approach is a view President Bańka and I share, and I extend my praise and respect to WADA for their commitment to prioritising education and for their effort to upskill the global anti-doping profession.
“I am immensely proud of the work Sport Integrity Australia has done in this space but believe there is always more we can learn from each other.”
This is the third GEC to be staged, following editions in the Canadian city Ottawa in 2015 and Chinese capital Beijing in 2018.
Australia was due to host the GEC in 2020 and then in 2021 but it was postponed on both occasions due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is being hosted by Sport Integrity Australia and is due to run until September 22.