Beijing: World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Witold Banka has expressed his satisfaction with anti-doping work for Beijing 2022 as dried blood spot (DBS) testing is first applied as a routine method at the Games.
Banka in an interview with Xinhua said the new method will be helpful to increase testing capability, and that “we are doing everything to eradicate cheats from the Games as it is always a festival of sports.”
According to WADA, the DBS, trialled during the Tokyo Games and rolled out for routine use across the testing program for the Beijing Games, carries several advantages over traditional forms and will be an important complement to established methods.
“China is a part of the group developing the DBS, together with the International Olympic Committee, United States Anti-Doping Agency and other anti-doping organisations, and it is believed to be a game-changer in anti-doping,” said Banka.
“The DBS is faster and cheaper, making the Beijing 2022 anti-doping program pretty comprehensive in addition to the pre-Games testing and random tests based on risk assessments,” said Olivier Niggli, director general of WADA.
“The pre-Games testing program for athletes before they came to Beijing is very important, which is the largest for any Games in the number of tests and organizations involved,” Niggli added.
At Beijing 2022, a WADA-coordinated Independent Observer team is in place to monitor the testing activities and make sure that the anti-doping test system works properly.
“The independent program has been running since the Sydney 2000 Games, aimed to give athletes and the general public the confidence that there is an independent group of people to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the rules, and a report summarizing the observation will be produced after the Games,” Niggli said.
WADA advocates an athlete-oriented philosophy, while Banka and WADA’s vice-president Yang Yang are both former athletes.
“It is very good and positive that former athletes are at the top of the organization. We have the same mindset, thinking pattern and working approach,” Banka said.
“With the experience of being an athlete, we know the way we grew up, during which the people around athletes have a big influence on them, so it is important to educate them with the understanding of clean sports; otherwise, they may go a different way,” Yang explained.
With effective anti-doping education and collaboration with related entities despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the testing numbers have maintained at a normal level throughout 2021.
Specifically, more than 24,000 samples were collected per month in the last quarter of 2021, and out-of-competition testing in 2021 remained at a level significantly greater than in 2019, according to WADA.
As the title of the WADA’s 2020-2024 strategic plan “Leading Anti-Doping in a New Era” reads, “It is also our goal to achieve. COVID-19 does not stop us. Anti-doping never sleeps,” Banka said.