IOC and WADA striving to create ‘a clean generation’
Athletes at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games are being educated about doping, drug testing and fair play in a range of initiatives aimed at creating a generation committed to clean sport.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) hopes its education programmes will serve as an introduction to some of the key issues that teenage athletes face, branding them the ‘play true generation’.
A booth at the Youth Olympic Village is offering guidance through an interactive quiz, games and prizes.
There is also a pledge wall, where signatures and painted hand prints are testament to the commitment of young athletes to stay away from banned substances.
The quiz, which is available in 34 different languages, asks questions to get young people engaging with this important issue.
“These are questions that focus on starting the education,” WADA’s Stacy Spletzer-Jegen explained. “They introduce the concept of what doping is.”
For example, how many teenagers know there is an official list of banned substances, and that not every medicine available from a pharmacy is automatically approved?
What is an athlete's responsibility if a coach tells them to take a substance?
And can athletes be tested at the Youth Olympic Games?
The answer to the last question is that athletes at these Games will be randomly tested. However, the process will be slightly different to that used at the Olympic Games.
Philippe Furrer, who is leading the Culture and Education Programme (CEP) for the IOC, said testing will only be done at the Youth Olympic Village and that it will be random, rather than specifically focused on the medallists.
“It’s our responsibility to have an anti-doping programme,” Furrer said. “But it’s different here because through the testing we also bring an educational dimension.”
The written answers to the quiz will provide WADA with information on what issues young athletes are struggling with.
The goal is to create informed ‘ambassadors’ who will spread information to their peers.
Spletzer-Jegen added that on 14 August alone, the WADA booth had been visited by about 500 athletes.
“The goal is to raise awareness and raise a generation [committed to] clean sport,” she said. “Clean athletes are ambassadors for clean sports.”