For the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, Innsbruck 2012, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) set itself the goal of educating athletes about the dangers of doping in sport.
To succeed in this, a dedicated booth was set up as part of the Culture and Education Programme and various initiatives were organised, including a video game to engage the athletes.
“At this level, athletes are at the beginning of their careers and many of them don’t know how important it is to fight against doping in sport,” WADA’s Terence O‘Rourke said.
The WADA video game engages athletes about how doping can affect their careers by offering players the option to accept or decline doping products. Sounds simple enough, but what products contain illegal substances is not always obvious which forces the athletes to think about what they put in their body.
“It is not appropriate to just order the young athletes: ‘Don’t use doping products, because it is not good’. It is easier for them to play and at the same time explore and learn,” Terence said. If an athlete decides to be doped in the game, they do improve their performance but ultimately the consequences are very bad. After testing positive, the athlete is sanctioned and left disappointed. Simon Kainzwaldner (ITA), who won the luge doubles gold medal in Innsbruck, revealed he found the game very interesting and instructive.
“The most important thing I have learned from this game is that you can win without doping. And indeed, I won a gold medal,” Kainzwaldner said.
The video game is also meant to help educate athletes about the people who may suggest doping to them.
“It's often the people who work with athletes that encourage them to take doping products. So, it is necessary that [the athletes] are made aware of this,” Terence added.