Education is a Key Pillar in Anti-Doping Movement
In its infancy, the USADA Education department was aimed at educating athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic levels about the anti-doping process, while also teaching athletes at the youth and grassroots levels about clean competition. In order to better serve athletes and athlete support personnel, this department was re-organized to create two high performance teams including Olympic Education and TrueSport. The current Olympic Education team is focused primarily on elite level athletes, including those in the USADA Registered Testing Pool (RTP), as well as their coaches and support personnel. TrueSport is an initiative powered by USADA that focuses on sharing the benefits of playing sport and the positive life lessons learned through sport with young athletes, their parents and other youth sport stakeholders.
While the Olympic Education department has always conducted in-person presentations to thousands of athletes each year about their anti-doping responsibilities, the look and feel of these presentations has evolved significantly.
USADA understands that education extends far beyond just explaining rules and regulations. Today’s educators often are the first person an athlete may engage with from USADA, they serve as clean sport ambassadors and help athletes connect their anti-doping responsibilities with the greater anti-doping mission. As part of this ambassador role, our educators seek to engage athletes through interactive games and activities.
Online and digital education has also evolved immensely. Since 2009, USADA has required RTP athletes to take the Athlete’s Advantage tutorial which provides invaluable information and serves as an overview of their anti-doping rights and responsibilities. The tutorial has seen many changes over the years, including being customized for specific audiences, including separate tutorials for athletes new to the pool, and for those who were in the pool the previous year. Online education via webinar is also commonplace and enables the Olympic Education group to extend their reach around the country and provide additional access and resources for athletes.
Emphasis on coach’s education has also been a big shift of focus for the department. In 2010, a Coach’s Advantage tutorial was made available for elite-level coaches to learn about the importance of their roles.
In the early days of anti-doping education, athletes would receive a large organizer of printed educational materials, a daily calendar to keep track of training schedules and other important dates, as well as an “Anti-Doping Passport” to keep a documented history of USADA test results. Athletes today have easy access to all of their resources in a digital format, in addition to the print publications, such as the Athlete Handbook and Pocket Guide, to help them understand and comply with WADA and USADA anti-doping policies and procedures. The digital resources have expanded to include the new Athlete Express whereabouts website and app, unveiled earlier this year.
Education continues to be a key priority for USADA, and we will continue to look at ways to provide athletes with the information they want and need to be successfully clean.