The WADA has signed an agreement with Europol ©Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement (Europol).

WADA said the agreement will formally establish and facilitate a mutual framework for cooperation between the two agencies in the area of sports doping.

According to the global watchdog, the partnership will enhance cooperation between WADA’s independent intelligence and investigations department and Europol, with the aim of combatting the illegal production and distribution of doping substances within the European Union.

"Intelligence and investigations has been an area in which WADA has made great progress since gaining the authority to conduct investigations under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code," said WADA President Witold Bańka.

"As demonstrated by recent high-profile cases, such as those involving the International Biathlon Union, Operation Aderlass, the International Weightlifting Federation and the Europol-coordinated Operation VIRIBUS, the sharing of information between law enforcement agencies and anti-doping organisations can be crucial in exposing wrong-doing that would not have been detected through testing or other analytical methods.

"Law enforcement and other Government agencies possess the power to attack the source and supply of illegal substances, which sport does not have, as well as the power to search and detain those suspected of crimes.

"Equally, WADA receives information and develops expertise that can be useful to the police in their criminal investigations.

"Through partnerships such as this one, we are ensuring that cooperation between these two groups continues to strengthen for the good of clean sport.

"WADA is very grateful to the European Union for its ongoing enthusiasm and willingness to join forces with WADA in this way."

The MoU is billed as being similar to an agreement which WADA has had with International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).

Activities will include the exchange of intelligence and practical support, as well as coordination on evidence-gathering and investigations of mutual concern.

"To scale up the global fight against the production and trafficking of doping substances and its use to corrupt fair sports competitions, Europol is strengthening its cooperation with the major player in the fight against doping in sports worldwide," Europol executive director Catherine De Bolle said.

"The new agreement will focus on exchanging knowledge and expertise, capacity building, and further collaboration between Europol and the World Anti-Doping Agency."

WADA said the agreement is the latest in a series of bilateral collaborative exercises designed to help fight doping.

The anti-doping watchdog last year signed an MoU with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), which was claimed to have broadened the scope of information shared about marketed products as well as biomedical products still in the early stages of research and development.

The agreement was aimed at helping to quickly implement detection methods for new performance-enhancing substances.

Agreements have also been reached by WADA with organisations to support other areas, including education, scientific research, medicine, the support of whistleblowers and the fight against international drug trafficking.