WADA announces Independent Observer teams for Tokyo Games

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is pleased to announce its planned Independent Observer (IO) program for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, which will run from 23 July to 8 August, and from 24 August to 5 September 2021, respectively.

WADA’s IO program, which complements WADA’s compliance monitoring of Major Events Organizations, is intended to provide oversight and instill confidence in both athletes and the public as to the quality, effectiveness, and reliability of anti-doping programs during major events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other international, multisport events.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said: "Since it was launched at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, WADA’s Independent Observer program has provided important oversight of anti-doping programs at the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and other major international sporting events. Working in collaboration with event organizers, the impartial and multi-skilled Independent Observer teams have helped to strengthen anti-doping delivery for more than 50 major events. Whether in real-time during the events or via the reports that are delivered afterwards, thanks to this program, important improvements have been made to how anti-doping is delivered during major events – all aimed at providing robust protections for athletes."

For the Tokyo Games, the teams will once again be composed of international experts across the full range of anti-doping disciplines – a mix of WADA and other Anti-Doping Organizations’ specialists – and will observe all aspects of the programs, including:

Test distribution planning;

Selection of competitors for testing;

Notification of doping control;

Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) procedures;

Chain of custody; and

Sample analysis and results management.

The teams, outlined below, will provide daily feedback as to possible improvements that could be made to the program, which is being operated by the International Testing Agency (ITA), on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), respectively. The IO teams will then issue post-Games reports that will formalize recommendations for the IOC, the IPC, the WADA-accredited laboratory in Tokyo, the organizing committees, and WADA – all designed to enhance anti-doping activities at future events.

Independent Observer Team – Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Dr. Francesca Rossi (Italy), Director of Testing, National Anti-Doping Agency of France (Chair);

George Tsamis (Greece), Senior Manager, Standards and Harmonization, WADA (Vice-Chair);

Dr. Osquel Barroso (Cuba), Senior Deputy Director, Laboratories, WADA;

Gina Gill Herrera (Colombia), Manager, Athlete Biological Passport and TUEs, National Anti-Doping Agency of Colombia;

Kenny Lee (Republic of Korea), Manager, Asia and Oceania Office, WADA;

Greg McKenna (UK), Head of Biathlon Integrity Unit, International Biathlon Union;

Aya Nakitanda (Uganda), Medical Doctor and President, National Anti-Doping Agency of Uganda (former athlete); and

Marissa Sunio (USA), Senior Manager, Legal Affairs, WADA.

Independent Observer Team – Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Jenny Schulze (Sweden), Manager, Testing and Science, National Anti-Doping Agency of Sweden (Chair);

Ieva Lukosiute-Stanikuniene (Lithuania), Senior Manager, NADO/RADO Relations and Development, WADA (Vice-Chair);

Thomas Delaye-Fortin (Canada), Head of Legal and Governance; Badminton World Federation;

Yoko Dozono (Japan), Medical Consultant (TUEs), WADA; and

Jeongmin Lee (Republic of Korea), Member, Asian Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council (former athlete).

WADA’s Outreach Program, which has been a long-standing fixture during the Games to raise anti-doping awareness among athletes and others, will not be present in Tokyo in its usual format due to the COVID-19 restrictions. While these important face-to-face interactions will not be possible on this occasion, the program is still planning static imagery and other ways to promote clean sport inside the Athlete Village and will distribute Play True promotional items to athletes being tested in the Village.

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