PtG Article 27.09.2019

Anti-doping: What’s next for WADA?

Key players in the international doping debate will meet at Play the Game 2019 to exchange visions and discuss one of the hottest topics in international sport at the moment.

The international anti-doping system has been in stormy waters for the past years as the revelation of the Russian doping scandal and the way it has been managed has caused intense debate among stakeholders about the weaknesses of the system. Some critics have claimed that the fight against doping as we have known it since the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been lost and must be reinvented and the recent news about the ‘inconsistencies’ over the data handed out by Russia to WADA has set the whole anti-doping system on fire once again.

The international anti-doping system is facing a serious challenge to restore confidence and regain trust from athletes and other stakeholders. Criticism of the lack of independence in WADA has led to some adjustments of its governance structure, but athletes are still not represented to the extent they believe is appropriate and it remains to be seen which results the current wave of athlete mobilisation will have in this respect.

At the last Play the Game conference in 2017 one of the key themes was titled ‘The global fight against doping: Facing a breakthrough or a breakdown?’ Now, two years later on the edge of Play the Game 2019, this question is still unanswered, not least in the light of recent news regarding the potential Russian manipulation of data from the Moscow lab. The upcoming conference will include perspectives from various high-profile stakeholders as well as academics and journalists on where things stand today and which improvements must be made if the fight is going to remain worth fighting. Through various plenary and parallel sessions, there will be opportunities for the speakers to engage in discussions and for the audience to participate in Q&A sessions.

Past, present and the future: Is WADA up for the challenge?

At Play the Game 2019 participants will hear the personal perspectives from some of the most well-known whistleblowers in sport, namely Oscar-winning director Bryan Fogel, Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, FIFA whistleblower Bonita Mersiades and undercover investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas. Here they will share their experiences and what sport must do to encourage and protect whistleblowers adequately if they are to provide information on wrongdoing in sport.

Some of the most prominent voices in the international debate will present their views about how they believe WADA can best move forward in the coming years to position itself as an effective global watchdog of the international efforts to protect clean athletes. The speakers include Beckie Scott, chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, who has fought for the athletes’ voices to be heard. Travis Tygart, USADA’s CEO, will face the man who is probably in the hottest seat in international anti-doping today Yuriy Ganus, the director general of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). Michael Ask, who is thechair of iNADO and the CEO of Anti Doping Denmark, will also participate in the session. Last, but not least, the journalist who exposed the scandal five years ago, investigative journalist and head of EyeOpening.Media, Hajo Seppelt will put a media perspective on the current challenges, and in a later session give insight in his work with investigative journalism.

Governance of anti-doping: Time for changes?

Andrea Gotzmann, CEO of NADA Germany, will show how new legislation in Germany has improved the use of the law enforcement in doping investigations, and Peter Mattsson, director of sport in the Swedish Sports Confederation, will discuss if anti-doping’s independence from sport is as crucial as it has been frequently advocated during the past years. Ben Sanford, member of WADA’s Athlete Committee, will present another innovative perspective to better protect the rights of athletes in anti-doping by the introduction of an Ombudsperson.

Furthermore, the session ‘Testing the testing: What is it worth in anti-doping?’ will focus on the testing schemes that are being implemented by anti-doping organisations around the world, while the session ‘Doping: Culture and Perceptions’ will present academic research into doping culture and how research in anti-doping can be supported by collective work from various partners in an organisation such as Partnership for Clean Competition which has contributed heavily to improve research in the area of anti-doping.


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Doping and whistleblowing related issues will be some of the topics up for debate at Play the Game 2019.

You can see the full programme, the list of speakers and all other information you need about the conference at the conference website.

Play the Game 2019 would not be possible without the generous support from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and a great number of sponsors in Colorado Springs and Denmark. You can see the list of sponsors here.