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Keeping sport real at the YOG

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Testing Agency (ITA) are teaming up to deliver an expanded anti-doping education programme for the young athletes at the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.

Anti-doping education has been an important feature of every edition of the YOG, but for Lausanne 2020 the IOC has stepped up its efforts in partnership with WADA and the ITA, as it aims to educate athletes early so that they become future ambassadors for clean sport.

Not only has the ITA been responsible for the testing programme atLausanne 2020, it has also been delivering a number of educational workshops – the ITA Real Sport Labs – across the venues and Villages. These have formed a key part of the Focus Days held by International Federations (IFs) at the YOG, which are organised to promote cultural exchange, skills development and the Olympic values among their young athletes.

The ITA Real Sport Lab is a new interactive experience that enables learning through workshop-composed simulations, and is designed to provide athletes with a first exposure to the testing process that they will inevitably experience either during the YOG or in their future sporting career. There are also interactive games, role play activities taking athletes through every step the testing procedure, competitions, prizes and group discussions – all intended to facilitate learning in a safe and positive environment.

The workshops are delivered in up to seven languages, and have already proved useful for athletes such as Spanish ski mountaineer Maria Costa Diez, who participated in one of the workshops on Sunday alongside all the athletes in her IF, before winning a gold medal in the sprint event the following day.

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“The workshop was perfect for me, because I had never been tested before in my life,” she explained. “But after [winning the gold medal] I was tested for the first time, and I knew all the things that I should do.”

Athlete Role Models have also been helping out at the IF Focus Days and with the workshops, and more are planned with athletes from bobsleigh, skeleton, curling and a number of skiing disciplines before the end of the YOG.

Meanwhile, in the Youth Olympic Villages, WADA has expanded the anti-doping educational activities available to athletes so that they can learn about their responsibilities in a similarly fun and engaging environment.

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The WADA “Play True” Athlete Outreach booth, which is manned by multilingual staff from WADA and the ITA along with some athlete ambassadors, has great prizes on offer to young athletes who complete the Play True quiz, which is available in 43 languages. These include an exclusive WADA winter neck buff – useful for the biting cold – and a vintage postcard which can be kept as a souvenir or sent to family and friends back home. Athletes who pass through the booth can also strike a pose in a classic ski jumping photo frame, sign the WADA Clean Sport pledge wall, and even play some table tennis.

This has ensured a regular stream of visitors to the space, one of whom was Latvian biathlete Signe Mikelsone, who was impressed with the diverse range of activities on offer around this vital topic.

“The activities here are very cool,” she said. “The WADA quiz allows you to learn something new and get more information about anti-doping. You can learn a lot and then chill with other athletes in the Athlete365 Space.”

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She added: “It’s important to be educated about doping in sport, because I believe we should all compete in a world without doping. If you dope, then you’re not really yourself; your body is not really your own. I will always compete as a clean athlete.”

The WADA Outreach booth will be open to athletes in Lausanne and St Moritz until the end of the YOG.

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