By Asmau Ahmad
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have signed a four-year memorandum of understanding to allow experts from both international organisations to collaborate and share information on issues where anti-doping and public health intersect.
The WADA is an independent body working towards eradicating the improper use of drugs in sport, through the collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport.
The MoU, which was signed in Geneva, Switzerland, by WADA President, Witold Bańka and WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, will run until October 1, 2027.
According to the two organisations, the MoU will provide a framework of cooperation between WHO and WADA to further their goals, specifically with regard to health promotion, the prevention of substance abuse and emerging drugs, and the promotion of clean sports.
WADA President, Bańka, said, “The MoU signed today with the WHO is a watershed moment that will benefit anti-doping efforts worldwide. WADA leads the global collaborative mission for doping-free sport; and in so doing, we also protect the health of individuals around the world.
“One of the three criteria for a substance to be added to WADA’s Prohibited List of Substances and Methods is if it represents an actual or potential health risk to athletes.
“Through our agreement with WHO, experts from both organisations will be able to work collaboratively to exchange information on emerging substances and reinforce scientific positions that will ultimately benefit not only athletes but society as a whole.
“WHO’s commitment to the health and well-being of society at large fits perfectly with our mission. I want to thank Dr Tedros and his team at WHO for their efforts leading up to this historic agreement and for their commitment to healthy, clean sport around the globe.”
Speaking further, Tedros said partnering with WADA reflected WHO’s commitment to work closely with the sport sector to encourage increased physical activity globally, in order to promote healthier lives for all.
“Sport and all forms of physical activity are essential to good health, and competitive sport plays a key role in inspiring people to be more active,” Tedros added.
He noted that the use of performance-enhancing substances can harm athletes, and certainly harms sport and those who look up to athletes as role models. “Keeping sport clean, therefore, has benefits beyond the sporting arena for the health and well-being of individuals and societies everywhere,” he asserted.
In a statement by the two organisations, the themes of the MoU include prevention and assessment of health risks associated with psychoactive substance use and related disorders, with a focus on doping compounds and substance use among athletes and awareness raising, and advocacy for clean sport and substance misuse prevention worldwide.
Others include raising awareness through education initiatives with the support of goodwill ambassadors and influencers to drive positive change; collaboration on substandard and falsified medical products, including identification of new emerging psychoactive drugs through sharing of information, mutual support, and engagement with sports federations; and reporting on abuse and misuse of falsified and substandard medical products in sport.
“The MOU also aligns with both organisations’ common objective of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Geol 3: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.
“These goals stem from the United Nations’ 2023 Agenda for SDG, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 and provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
“This formal agreement between WADA and WHO follows an initial meeting between the two organisations which took place in April 2023 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva,” the statement added.