The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) continues to set global benchmarks for National Anti-Doping Organisations in our region.
As doping practices become more sophisticated and complex, ASADA CEO David Sharpe says ASADA has taken proactive steps to keep pace and to reassure athletes around the world that we are committed to working for them to keep sport clean and fair.
“The anti-doping environment faces greater scrutiny than ever before, is more sophisticated and complex, and ASADA continues to meet this challenge head-on,” Sharpe says.
“In acknowledging this, the Australian Government increased our funding enabling ASADA to build our capabilities that are required to meet this challenge.”
In July 2018, ASADA implemented a new operating model, one which delivers an innovative and holistic anti-doping program, focusing on three key areas:
- Education and Awareness,
- Partnerships and Engagement, and
“It’s a model that builds on and improves the existing capability of ASADA to anticipate, understand and respond to doping threats that potentially undermine the integrity of sport in Australia,” Sharpe says.
“We listened to sport, we engaged with them, we took the time to understand the pressures and, as a result, we have invested heavily in our staff to make sure we can deliver the very best education and testing experiences.”
Sharpe says his goal has been and will continue to be to raise awareness of the dangers of doping, not just individual cases of elite athletes and teams, but to educate all Australians - parents, coaches, athletes, kids and supporters of grassroots sport - of the greater health risks that are associated with performance and image enhancing drugs.
“We are forward thinking and innovative and will continue to strive to protect the health of all Australian athletes regardless of the level they’re playing at or what age they are.”
ASADA is “a world-leader” in using and developing new technologies in anti-doping education, he says. “We are always looking at ways to value-add to all areas of our operations, to be more proactive and effective, and this includes looking for and adopting best practice from around the world.”
ASADA’s Clean Sport App, award-winning Virtual Reality, Parents’ Guide to Clean Sport, Integrity in Sport Teacher Professional Development Workshops and our CleanFreak video are just some of the tools used to spread the message to all levels and all ages.
ASADA also has a strong focus on working with athletes and sports through partnerships and education programs, such as the recently developed Athlete Advisory Group which gives weight to the ‘athletes’ voice’ and athletes’ input into ASADA’s business.
Sharpe says the AAG will help ASADA to understand the pressures athletes’ face so the Agency can tailor its messages, education, and future anti-doping strategies.
It follows the introduction by ASADA earlier this year of 16 athlete Clean Sport Educators to deliver anti-doping education to their peers.
“This is the result of a broader ASADA strategy developed over the past 12 months to work with athletes with one key goal to develop more advocates for anti-doping,” Sharpe says.
In collaboration with sports, ASADA also develops tailored and sport specific resources such as posters, postcards, wallet cards, videos, and advertisements that target key issues within sport.
To be truly effective, ASADA has developed a digital media strategy to open up as many communicative avenues as possible and amplify our clean fair sport messages.
“We have tailored our social media messages in order to raise awareness of ASADA and our work, but also to educate and engage with athletes and fans like never before,” Sharpe says.
The posts target sports, their athletes, support personnel, coaching staff, recreational players and fans, and focus on anti-doping regulations, individual responsibilities, health impacts of drugs and avenues to report doping.
While ASADA continues to evolve, it is crucial that the Authority also support anti-doping agencies around the world, Sharpe says, to close the capability gap in order to collectively protect the rights of Australian athletes and all clean athletes on the global stage.
“ASADA’s intent to continue as an international leader is key to this and our regional engagement strategy drives this initiative.”
As a result, ASADA has developed close partnerships with New Zealand and the World Anti-Doping Agency to strengthen the Oceania Region, and also provide support and capability development to Sri Lanka and India as required.
Closer to home, ASADA has also signed Collaborative Research partnerships with the University of Queensland and the University of Canberra, Australia’s leading sporting university.
Our UC partnership is “innovative and ground breaking with the potential to push the barriers”, Sharpe says, working alongside the UC’s Research Institute of Sport and Exercise on a range of projects related to Science, Education, Innovation, Technology and Intelligence.
“It is another example of our commitment to partnerships for the ultimate benefit of Australia’s sporting community,” Sharpe says. “It pushes the barriers and challenge ideas … and paves the way for the future as we tackle the threats to sports integrity together.”