China leading WADA efforts

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World Anti-Doping Agency President, Sir Craig Reedie, attends a news conference ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb 8, 2018.

Citing China's extensive anti-doping education, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is hailing the country's efforts to fight drug cheating while expressing confidence that a strong testing program will ensure a clean 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

In the wake of the post-Sochi 2014 scandal that resulted in Russia being barred from participating in the Pyeongchang Games, WADA has been searching for worldwide support to step up comprehensive efforts against the use of performance-enhancing substances.

A wide-ranging education program jointly facilitated by China's sports and education governing bodies has earned recognition from Craig Reedie, president of WADA.

"We regarded it highly," Reedie told China Daily of the cooperation between China and WADA.

"One of the really important areas of our cooperation is education. We try to build decent educational materials - many of them are web-based rather than written - that can be translated to use in China.

"China does not just look after the elite athletes, they wish to have healthy sporting activity in a very large population of young people, and the education to accomplish that role is crucial."

With clean competition highlighted as a priority for competing in Pyeongchang, the General Administration of Sport of China, with help from the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA), expanded an anti-doping qualification program requiring all national team athletes and coaches to attend lectures and pass written exams to qualify for Games selection, regardless of their athletic results.

The frequency of tests has effectively curbed intentional and delinquent violations.

According to the GASC, over 17,000 tests were conducted in 2017, an increase of 40 percent from the previous year. The rate of positive results, however, was lower than the international average.

Before the 13th Chinese National Games in August, 14,398 athletes and 8,764 coaches and team officials passed their examination of anti-doping knowledge.

The GASC has also teamed up with the Ministry of Education to implement anti-doping education and testing for student athletes at 275 universities, including the top-notch Tsinghua and Peking universities, since 2015.

As the ever-expanding WADA list of banned substances includes not just performance-enhancing drugs but some ordinary medications, education must keep abreast of changes with the help of technology, Reedie stressed.

"The only way you can do it on a major scale is to do it on web-based delivery. You can't do it by printing books or telling people," he said.

"Putting it into the curriculum for education in the schools is quite difficult to organize, but with modern technology we are able to build programs for all over the world."

As Beijing will soon pick up the baton from Pyeongchang to host the 2022 Olympics, WADA and China will put all necessary measures in place throughout the preparation and delivery of the Games to ensure clean competition, said Reedie.

"We clearly agree that it is crucially important for the organization of good Winter Games that there is a proper anti-doping process in place up to and during the competition," he added.

"We would like to put in place a regular and comprehensive testing program the whole way up.

"There will probably be more emphasis on it in the build-up to 2022, but we are very confident all of that can be done because we think CHINADA and China are in a good place."

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