4 insights from our anti-doping webinar

Oct 6, 2023
Anti-doping leaders joined us to explore how to better protect sports and athletes with intelligence-led approaches.

In recent years, anti-doping efforts in sports have made significant progress.

However, the challenges posed by evolving doping methods and substances have necessitated a shift towards more focused, intelligence-led approaches.

Available to watch again, in our webinar Is dope testing still a numbers game?, this transformation was at the forefront of discussions among the experts.

Chaired by Greg McKenna, Head of Unit, Biathlon Integrity Unit, the panel included:

  • Richard McLaren, Co-founder and CEO, McLaren Global Sport Solutions​
  • Nicole Sapstead, Senior Director, Anti-Doping, International Tennis Integrity Agency​
  • Tim Naylor, Director of Integrity and Regulation, British Horseracing Authority​
  • Nicholas Raudenski, Head of Intelligence and Investigations, International Testing Agency

The shift towards intelligence-led approaches

The webinar highlighted a crucial shift from a heavy reliance on traditional, volume-based testing to intelligence-led strategies.

While high-volume testing acts as a deterrent, it was acknowledged that it may not effectively address the core issues.

Nicholas Raudenski stressed that “the numbers don’t tell the full story” and that intelligence-led approaches are necessary to uncover and address the root causes of doping.

This shift requires expanding anti-doping codes, involving government legislation, and fostering collaboration among various authorities.

You can expand testing numbers year on year, said Tim, but if we’re not improving sports integrity and protecting athletes, “what are we all doing?”, he asked.

The role of technology and resource constraints

With an eye to future developments in identifying and preventing doping activities, technology naturally played a significant role in discussions.

While laboratory testing today is “incredible,” Richard McLaren emphasised that the necessary technology should be directed towards intelligence gathering and risk assessment, such as that offered by Clue.

AI and voice analytics were also cited as potential game-changers. However, it was recognised by Tim that resource constraints are a reality for anti-doping organisations, necessitating careful allocation of resources to maximise impact while maintaining fairness and integrity.

The need for better collaboration and data sharing

Collaboration and data sharing were identified as both challenges and opportunities in anti-doping efforts.

Overcoming hurdles in sharing information is crucial, especially between law enforcement and sports organisations. Technology such as AI and data analysis offers the potential in breaking down information siloes.

Urging stakeholders to talk to one another, Nicola highlighted a need for a “globally utilised” intelligence management system, capable of alerting and engaging users to common entities and helping join the dots to reveal an intelligence picture.

Overcoming challenges related to data privacy regulations and finding the right contacts for collaboration were recognised as crucial steps towards creating a more comprehensive picture of doping activities.

“Once we identify a need to share, then we’ll find a way to do it,” Nicholas assured.

Power of human intelligence and changing culture

Despite technological advancements, the webinar emphasised the importance of athletes and their trust in anti-doping measures. Nicole stressed that athletes are key stakeholders, and the responsibility lies in protecting them and crediting their clean performances.

Encouraging athletes to proactively report wrongdoing is an untapped source of valuable information. However, changing attitudes, addressing fears of retribution, and reducing stigma around reporting requires a cultural shift across sports.

Education from a young age, aimed at building better relationships between athletes and administrators and creating a safe environment for reporting, is essential for this transformation, said Richard.

The webinar underscored the need for a paradigm shift in anti-doping efforts. By adopting intelligence-led approaches, leveraging technology, enhancing collaboration and data sharing, and fostering a culture of trust and reporting, the sports community can collectively work towards a cleaner and more transparent environment for athletes and fans.

We help sports organisations conduct intelligence and investigations into doping, corruption match manipulation and safeguarding concerns. Learn more about Clue for Sports Integrity.

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