© Copyright – 2024 – Athletics Illustrated

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Intelligence and Investigations Department released a report on doping in youth and the trauma that it causes. The investigation was named Operation Refuge.

Operation Refuge details the deep trauma and isolation child athletes experience following a positive doping test and suspension. The report exposes the challenges faced by minors. The effect on families and the anti-doping community when a child tests positive for a prohibited substance or method. The report delivers a number of conclusions and identifies important areas for improvement on this issue.

Commenting on the report’s conclusions, WADA President Witold Banka said, “The data, conclusions, and stories in the ‘Operation Refuge’ report should resonate deeply with all of us in the world of sport. My hope is that the findings, and more importantly, the first-person accounts of the minors and their support networks, will create a strong sense of urgency within the anti-doping community about how we can better protect young athletes in such situations in the future.”

“One area of improvement for sure will be to place an even greater emphasis on the development of education initiatives for athletes and support personnel alike, specifically targeting doping among minors. WADA strongly believes that education is the single best way to prevent doping in sport. This is especially true the younger the athlete is. WADA is leading the way and providing support in this area. It will take the buy-in of the whole community to properly address this crucial issue. Together, we can strengthen the system for young athletes worldwide.” 

The report highlights immediate steps that need to be taken by Anti-Doping Organisations and governments. As well as the steps to implement specific policies or procedures for dealing with minors. “Currently, many Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) do not have specific policies and procedures in place for dealing with minors, nor do they have trained and specialized personnel to deal with issues in this area,” Added Banka.

Childhood doping in Russia

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been given a four-year ban for doping after initially being cleared.

As reported by the BBC, a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) investigation found the teenager bore “no fault or negligence” for a failed test before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

News of Valieva’s failed test only emerged after she had helped Russia to team gold in Beijing at the age of 15.