WADA launches anti-doping eLearning platform
Elite athletes are special people who exist on a different plane from the average person. They are driven to succeed at all costs. But sporting authorities have drawn a line in the sand that can bring famous careers to an end if crossed: no performance-enhancing drugs. The world of doping in sport is therefore a delicately-poised knife edge of conflict, deception, and brinkmanship.
In the 1970s the physician Robert Goldman posed the following question to a group of top athletes: If I could give you a pill that allowed you to become Olympic Champion, but would kill you within five years, would you take it?
Half of them said yes. This gives us a glimpse into the mindset of athletes driven to succeed at the time. However, subsequent research published in 2013 yielded much lower numbers. This could be due to the publicity surrounding doping in sport since the 1970s, and the modern athlete’s instinct to shy away from it – or become smarter at doing it to avoid detection. Either way, doping is still a problem at all levels of sport – the recent banning of the Russian team from the Olympics being a prime example and receiving the most publicity.
Things have come a long way since the occasion when, at the 1904 Olympics, a marathon runner named Thomas Hicks was given an injection of strychnine during the race, in full view of everybody, to help him finish it. Stimulants were even used in ancient Greece at the original Olympic Games, to help chariot racers get into the state of frothing lunacy required to compete. So doping is definitely nothing new.
These days, some athletes try to get round the rules by using ‘designer’ stimulants with slightly different chemical structures to banned substances, but that are not yet themselves banned. There is a constant cat-and-mouse game between athletes and sporting authorities.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) exists to combat the use of performance-enhancing substances in sports. It publishes and maintains a list of banned substances and establishes monitoring programs which bring consistency to anti-doping policies across the world. An important part of its work is education, which includes values-based programs for young athletes, their parents and their coaches, and training for doctors and team managers.
In January WADA launched AdeL, an eLearning platform containing all of WADA’s eLearning courses and resources. Here is a podcast featuring WADA’s Senior Education Manager Tony Cunningham, in which he describes AdeL and how it can enhance training and doping awareness and prevention worldwide.