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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Measurements & testing projects > Using the web against cheaters
Graphic element Using the web against cheaters

The problem of doping in sport has received widespread coverage in recent years and poses a growing challenge to the sporting world. The European Union has joined forces with the Olympic movement and an International Sports Federation to support the development of an information platform, which will greatly improve the flow of information among the various sporting bodies and other organisations active in this sector. Given the increasingly global nature of the problem, as well as the complexity of this area from both an ethical and medical point of view, a high-quality, centralised databank of information (website) will make an essential contribution to the fight against doping in sport.

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The increasingly competitive and commercial nature of sport exerts considerable pressure on athletes to boost their performance through the use of illicit substances. This is actually encouraged in some cases by certain elements of their entourage for political and commercial reasons. The threat is insidious but very real. There are considerable health risks for the athletes involved, and the very spirit of sport as a celebration of human achievement is being compromised. With the ever increasing range of chemical stimulants and other products being developed, however, this is a complex area and one which remains relatively fragmented at a global level. Dr. Schamasch of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) explains: "The CAFDIS project aims to bring together all the various interested players in the fight against doping in sport. This forum will facilitate the exchange of information and provide an important resource for all those concerned by this issue."

Spinning an info web

The need for greater co-ordination and improved information exchange in this sector was identified in the HARDOP project on ''Harmonising ways and means of fighting against doping in sport", also supported by the EU. To answer this need the CAFDIS project was established. It is being led, under the co-ordination of the Olympic Council of Ireland, by the IOC's' Medical Commission, the International Cycling Union, the national Olympic Committees of France and Italy, and the Doping Control Laboratory of Athens in Greece, the latter having a pivotal role in the next Olympic Games.

The CAFDIS project was launched in March 2001. Dr Cummiskey of the Institute of Medical Sport Science in Dublin, Ireland, envisages that: "The first step will be to establish effective national information networks which are capable of feeding information back into the project database on a regular and ongoing basis. The project has already enrolled the support of the great majority of the national Olympic Committees in Europe, IOC-accredited doping control laboratories, and a range of other relevant organisations throughout the Union."

Developing a platform

The ultimate goal of the project is to make full use of the most modern information and communication technologies to develop an effective information platform for all those fighting to stop doping in sport - the athletes themselves, sports federations, doping control laboratories, the judiciary, police and customs, medical personnel and even the pharmaceutical industry. The resulting website will have four main sections with various levels of access depending on the user:

Research and development: provides an inventory of the research being carried out, thus helping to both improve the flow of information and to avoid duplication of effort.

Education and ethics: offers general information on the subject and the issues surrounding it. This section is intended to have primarily an educational role and is targeted at all the various sectors affected as well as the general public.

Laboratory aspects: traditionally an area in which the exchange of information has been restricted due to concerns over confidentiality, it is hoped that increased co-operation can be encouraged to promote a greater harmonisation of drug testing methods and standards. This issue is important to avoid costly legal challenges to doping accusations and to reinforce the legal weight of test results as evidence of drug taking.

Future trends: Contacts will be made with a wide range of organisations, both within and outside the sports sector, to attempt to gauge the future trends in doping. Information from the customs and excise authorities and the police may, for example, be analysed to detect current trends in the trafficking of illegal substances; and links will be established with the pharmaceutical industry to develop a better understanding of the impact of drug-related developments.

The project is planned to run for three years and the resulting website is scheduled to be operational in 2004.

   Going global

Although the starting point of the project is European, the aim is to rapidly extend its activities on a global level. CAFDIS will work closely with the newly formed World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the first project workshop, due to be held in October 2001 in Dublin, Ireland, will include a number of representatives from sporting bodies across the world. The problem is clearly an international one and CAFDIS, by developing a structure to facilitate the pooling of information resources worldwide, will make a significant contribution to the fight against doping in sport. And last, but not least, by gathering all the information together CAFDIS will make it easier to identify those areas where further action is needed.

See also
Anti-doping: the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sport
Spinning an info web
Developing a platform
Going global

Key data

A concerted action has been launched, under the measurements and testing generic activity of the Growth Programme, aimed at significantly improving information exchange in the field of anti-doping control.


CAFDIS - Concerted Action in the Fight against Doping in Sport (GTC1-2000-28002).

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