The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced the make-up of its Independent Observer teams for this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Eight experts have been selected for the Olympics with five chosen for the Paralympics as WADA aims to provide "robust protections" for athletes in the Japanese capital.
WADA said the International Observer programme bids to provide "oversight" and "instil confidence in both athletes and the public as to the quality, effectiveness and reliability" of anti-doping schemes.
The teams consist of specialists from WADA and anti-doping organisations which are set to observe all aspects of the programme.
Test distribution plans, selection of competitors for testing and notification of doping control form part of WADA’s International Observer responsibilities.
Other aspects of the role include Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) procedures, chain of custody and sample analysis and results management.
WADA said the International Observer teams will provide daily feedback that could lead to possible improvements to the programme which is being operated by the International Testing Agency on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
After the Games, the teams are expected to issue reports that will formalise recommendations for the IOC, IPC and WADA-accredited laboratory in Tokyo, the Organising Committees and WADA in a bid to enhance anti-doping activities at future events.
Among the WADA officials heading to the Olympics are Greece’s George Tsamis, senior manager in standards and harmonisation, Cuba’s Osquel Barroso, senior deputy director in laboratories, South Korea’s Kenny Lee, manager in the Asia and Oceania office, and Marissa Sunio of the United States, senior manager in legal affairs.
The quartet will be joined by Britain’s Greg McKenna, head of the Biathlon Integrity Unit at the International Biathlon Union, Aya Nakitanda, former athlete and President of the National Anti-Doping Agency of Uganda, Gina Gill Herrera, manager in athlete biological passport and TUEs at the National Anti-Doping Agency of Colombia, and Italian Francesca Rossi, director of testing at the National Anti-Doping Agency of France.
Rossi will chair the team with Tsamis named as vice chair.
Jenny Schulze, manager in testing and science at the National Anti-Doping Agency of Sweden, will lead the Paralympic team with the assistance of Lithuanian Ieva Lukosiute-Stanikuniene, senior manager in national and regional anti-doping organisations, relations and development at WADA.
Canada’s Thomas Delaye-Fortin, head of legal and governance at Badminton World Federation, Japan’s Yoko Dozono, medical consultant in TUEs at WADA and South Korea’s Jeongmin Lee, former athlete and member of the Asian Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council, have also been chosen.
The global anti-doping system is strengthened by the whole anti-doping community working together in a collaborative manner. Today, I had a constructive conversation with the minister responsible for sport of Malta, Dr Clifton Grima. #PlayTrue @clifton_grima @wada_ama pic.twitter.com/IHgBBzzgzR— Witold Bańka (@WitoldBanka) May 25, 2021
"Since it was launched at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, WADA’s Independent Observer programme has provided important oversight of anti-doping programmes at the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and other major international sporting events," said Olivier Niggli, director general of WADA.
"Working in collaboration with event organisers, the impartial and multi-skilled Independent Observer teams have helped to strengthen anti-doping delivery for more than 50 major events.
"Whether in real-time during the events or via the reports that are delivered afterwards, thanks to this programme, important improvements have been made to how anti-doping is delivered during major events - all aimed at providing robust protections for athletes."
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, before the Paralympics take place between August 24 and September 5.
A series of COVID-19 countermeasures are set to be in place at the Games, but WADA insists it will not stop its team from carrying out its duties.
WADA admits its outreach programme which has been a fixture during the Games to raise anti-doping awareness among athletes will "not be present in Tokyo in its usual format" due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But the agency added: "While these important face-to-face interactions will not be possible on this occasion, the programme is still planning static imagery and other ways to promote clean sport inside the Athlete Village and will distribute play true promotional items to athletes being tested in the Village."